• Nicky

Artificial Intelligence: Are We Already Living With AI?

What is intelligence?

In order to understand artificial intelligence (AI), lets first look at human intelligence.

Intelligence is measured on a sliding scale. When is a human truly classed as intelligent? Is a new-born baby intelligent? It knows how to cry to get what it needs, it can suckle, burp, poo and wriggle but most of us would not class a baby as intelligent. How about a toddler, are they intelligent?

An average 2 year old can have a vocabulary of anywhere between 75 and 225 words, has taught itself how to manipulate the muscles in its body to allow it to move across a number of different terrains, pickup and move tiny objects to precise positions, solve simple puzzles and for those of us who have lived through our own children’s terrible twos they certainly know how to manipulate their parents and can set their own goals of what they want, much to the consternation of the parents.

Is this intelligence?

But if I give a toddler a complicated long division sum to solve, most of them will not have a clue what I am asking from them.

Yet computers can do this complicated calculation within a split second with ease. I am so confident the computer would have done it without an error I would use it to check my own answers. I have more faith in my computer than my own ability to perform calculations. So, can computers be classed as intelligent?

Deep Blue

What exactly is intelligence? Let’s look at Deep Blue, the computer that beat Garry Kasparov at chess. At the time it was seen as a significant leap towards artificial intelligence. Kasparov was truly a brilliant chess player, but he was more than that, he knew how to intimidate his opponents. He would unnerve them so much that they started to doubt their own abilities and would soon start making mistakes.

However, when Kasparov played Deep Blue, this method could not work on an emotionless machine. Deep Blue could not feel intimidated and so played without doubts of its own tactics so didn’t fall into the same mistakes that Kasparov’s other opponents so often did. Not only was Deep Blue programmed to be able to predict many more possible moves than Kasparov, it was also programmed to use emotional manipulation to intimidate the Russian chess master himself.

The programmers had given Deep Blue instructions to use delays, to make the machine look like it was uncertain about which move to make. Sometimes these delays would last for several minutes and gave Kasparov the impression that he was out-thinking Deep Blue. It gave him a false sense of confidence.

Kasparov playing Deep Blue
Stan Honda / Getty Images

In another game Kasparov tried to lure Deep Blue into a trap but Deep Blue worked out the plan but pretended to take the bait and then at a crucial moment, moved it’s queen out of reach, thwarting the attack and leaving Kasparov visibly shaken. Kasparov ended up losing the match and eventually the tournament, later saying he only lost because of his own poor playing rather than Deep Blue’s chess playing abilities.

Many would say that Deep Blue showed signs of intelligence but if I played Deep Blue at noughts and crosses, it would not know how to play unless the programmers entered all the rules and programmed in complex tactics that would allow it to win. Is that really intelligence? It is not learning for itself, it is relying on the programmers predicting all the decisions beforehand and it is unable to learn from it’s mistakes.

The success of its game playing depends entirely on the code that somebody else creates for it. Deep Blue is no more intelligent than a digital watch, it can not break free from its programming. It is a machine that was built for one purpose, playing chess, and it did that very well.

Turing Test

Alan Turing, the computer scientist and mathematician who cracked the German’s Enigma code in World War II, wanted to answer the question “Can computers think?” However, when he tried to quantify what thinking actually was, he realised there was no measurable precise quality that psychologists or neuroscientists could agree upon.

Instead he devised a test that would measure if a computer could trick a human into believing they were communicating with another human. This was known as the “Imitation Game”. He had not intended this test to be a measure of intelligence as such, but rather to try to understand if a computer could act in such a way as to behave like a human.