Introduction to AI


Video Script

Welcome back everyone. In this video, we’re going to be taking a look at artificial intelligence. But before we get to the artificial part, what is actually intelligence? So what does it mean to be intelligent? This is a question I ask all of my students from the kindergarteners that I do outreach with all the way up into college classes like this, and I get a very wide range of responses here. And usually the default answer that I get is intelligent means someone is smart, right? But it’s not necessarily always the case, right? A person who’s smart or has an high IQ is capable of doing math, really good at remembering information, and creation of information. But it’s not necessarily intelligent behavior. So intelligence involves a lot of different things, including reasoning and problem solving, which of course, smart people are able to do those things as well. Our ability to reason to a certain degree and problem solved to a certain degree is definitely an intelligent behavior. When you encounter a situation in you’re environment, and you reason and solve that particular problem to get around that particular obstacle. And we see these types of behaviors and all sorts of beings, right? Not just humans, but it is documented quite frequently in the animal kingdom as well. Intelligent behavior also involves our ability to construct knowledge, right? So as we learn from our environment, right? Learning is also another intelligent behavior. But as we start to interact from our environment, we’re going to gather data, information, things that we see, taste, hear, touch, all of those things, our ability to perceive from our environment, which is also an intelligent behavior, our senses, but that information needs to go somewhere, right? An intelligent being like an animal or human is going to be able to take that information and construct knowledge to a certain degree.

Now the level of intelligence can impact what kind of knowledge that can be constructed, probably some of the most basic ones, right? Even my kid right now we have those buckets, right, that have little different shape holes on top, and you have a bunch of different blocks. So the square block goes into the square hole, and the star block goes into the star hole. And it takes a little while, right? That is information that you can kind of get from trial and error, trying to put the square block in a triangle hole isn’t going to work out very well, but eventually you’ll figure out that, hey, the square goes into the square hole, and so on. Right? So that is one of our base forms of being able to construct knowledge and learn from our environment. Our ability to perceive also impacts our ability to learn and construct that knowledge. So the first time that you ever touched a hot stove by accident or a hot pan, right, that pain is something that we remember and is ingrained in us. So before that ever happens, we don’t really truly learn what it means to touch something that’s very hot. And we don’t sense that as a true thing of danger until that is actually touched. And then we get that pain reception. And we hopefully learn to not touch that hot pan again, even though we do that probably by accident. And hopefully we don’t do that on purpose again. So intelligent behavior, right? Not necessarily someone who’s smart, although smart people are definitely intelligent and exhibit intelligent behavior, but intelligent behavior isn’t necessarily connected to how smart someone is. But if that is intelligence, what does it mean to have artificial intelligence? Well, on a very basic level, right, is a non-biological thing that has or exhibits forms of intelligence, right, a machine right or robot or computer or phone, whatever it may be something that is not living a does exhibit some form of intelligence. Now, it may not be total human intelligence, but it may be partial human intelligence.

So a lot of this came from a man by the name of John McCarthy, who really was the creator or really helped start the field of AI. So in 1956, john McCarthy, who worked at Dartmouth College at the time, helped to organize a conference to discuss the idea of artificial intelligence. And so the 50s, this is really after world war two was over, and everyone was home and the big computers that we had created for the war, are now no longer being used for military purposes, but are starting to be transformed into industrial purposes. John McCarthy also had a lot of other things credited to him, including the Lisp programming language, but primarily he is credited for helping organize the idea of artificial intelligence and so on. During that summer of 1956, several leading minds in the world of AI at the time, although AI really wasn’t solidified at that point, but many of the people who had interest in this type of idea gathered for a very several long week brainstorming session, essentially, little mini conference. Attendees included john McCarthy, of course, Alan Newell, Herbert Simon, Claude Shannon, who we’ve talked about before Marvin Minsky, and quite a few others. I’ll talk about a lot of those folks here later on and the following videos. But pictured here are some of the surviving members of the conference from at least in 2006, when they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary. But at this conference, overall, a lot of the groundwork and the ideas of artificial intelligence were first introduced. And it really helped to shape the field for many years to come.

So we had this discussion already of what is intelligence and what is artificial intelligence. According to john McCarthy, it is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related similar to the task of using computers to understand human intelligence. But AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable. I really like that particular part there that is not biologically observable, right? There’s a lot of things in the world that are intelligent behaviors, right? Especially a lot of animals, cells, all sorts of things. But there’s a lot of things that machines can do that biological processes can’t as well. What does that mean for the definition of intelligence? Well, John McCarthy continued here to say that intelligence is the computational part of the ability to achieve goals in the world. Varying kinds of degrees of intelligence occur in many people, animals, and even some machines, as we talked about with artificial intelligence. But there’s really no true solid definition of intelligence, and particularly when it doesn’t depend on human intelligence, because a lot of times, of course, we as humans are defining intelligence. And most of the time, we’re defining intelligence in terms of our intelligence. So the problem is that we cannot yet characterize in general what kinds of computational procedures we want to call intelligent. We understand some mechanisms of intelligence and not others. So we don’t really truly fully understand the human brain yet and a lot of the nuances of our own human intelligence. So it’s kind of hard to quantify intelligence as a whole, especially artificial intelligence when we’re trying to transition into human-like AI.