Understanding Artificial Intelligence

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Words : Nilu Rajapakse

At the mere mention of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ our imaginations race in the direction of popular science fiction movie scenes, with human-like robots, super-intelligent assistants that answer any question, and a street full of vehicles that drive people to work while they leisurely browse the newspaper.  50 years ago these concepts stayed in the mainstream ‘science fiction’ bucket, although at that time researchers were already working hard to realise them.  With many stops and starts, today AI has come a long way since then.

Some of those concepts have actually taken shape and are at various stages of development, and commercialisation, although not quite as far as Sir Arthur C. Clarke imagined in his science fiction titled ‘2001 Space Odyssey’ (1968). The tireless perseverance of researchers and the unbending optimism of visionaries who banked their money on AI are the main forces behind various forms of AI that we enjoy today. Ranging from air travel, to stock-trading, from a medical checkup to shopping, AI has enabled us or empowered service providers to predict our next move.

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