Winter Break’s End and AI Debate (English)

Today is a typical Winter’s day, it’s cold and cloudy, but it doesn’t rain. It’s also the last day of my Winter holidays, and starting tomorrow a pretty tight agenda awaits me.

Even though my mood was great some days after my last post, today I started feeling down again, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was a week ago. On Friday, as I had announced, I had my Computer Science II final test, with neither good nor extremely bad results. They didn’t ask me one single thing of what I had printed, studied and thought about, and all the hours I spent had to go somewhere, so here I am, trying to briefly explain the debate of Artificial Intelligence.

Let’s begin from where we should: ¿What on Earth is Artificial Intelligence?

Basically, Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a device (generally electronical) to behave like a thinking human does. It also refers to the branch of computer science which studies computational models which show that ability, their reach and limitations.

The topic of thinking machines has been exposed in movies and books for a long time: 2001: A Space Oddisey, I Robot, The Bicentennial Man and the movie AI, directed by Spielberg, are very well known examples. Still, we haven’t yet seen any of these things (except for some concepts of 2001), and that’s where debate starts: Is it possible to create machines which can think, behave, feel and be concious (despite my doubts about this last one) like humans?

As always is the case, there are two sides:

  • Weak AI: Machines cannot think, but they are very good at simulating human intelligence. It’s in some way the current de facto paradigm, and it’s the one that shows to be more useful. We see it realizing it or not in videogames, and concepts such as neural networks and expert systems (computers which mimic the knowledge of an expert in a certain field) are increasing in popularity.
  • Strong AI: all possible behavior (including the one of the human mind) is an algorithm (a finite, ordered an unambiguous sequence of steps) independent of the hardware on which it is implemented, which means we can make a fully functional thinking robot if we are able to understand (at least approximately) the working of the brain and code it. Voilá!

Very smart people are on both sides, and they have strong arguments, so this debate will lat for a very long time (except there’s some kind of revolution) :)

The above definitions are more complex, but I think I wrote them makes them easier to understand.

Today post was a very very brief introduction, and I decided to leave it here for now because otherwise it will be to long. Soon I’ll write part II, where I’ll talk about the most important people on each side, so stay tuned! ;)

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