AI: Past, Present and Future

AI: Past, Present and Future

Course Essay for Course CS-C1000


I enrolled myself in the course CS-C1000 : Introduction to AI by Aalto University from 03.03.2023 - 14.04.2023. I got to know about this course from a list of Open University Courses. The form of teaching was blended i.e. contact teaching + lectures available online. I will write more about the content of the course, teaching styles, exercises, assignments, grading system, and my experience in detail in subsequent posts in the coming days if time permits. I've already written a post about Introduction to Artificial Intelligence in brief, on my personal blog about this course.

The essay that you're going to read is the final essay which was mandatory to submit to receive the grade for this course. It was peer graded on the platform; Peer Grade. I received 77.8% as my submission score. I tried to give an overall perspective on the evolution of AI. Hope you enjoy reading this essay.


AI has been present for decades but in recent years the increase in computing capabilities, demands of users, and the evolution of big data has created a storm in the field of Artificial Intelligence due to which it has started to receive attention. Artificial Intelligence, as the name suggests, is intelligence that is not real i.e artificial. In this regard, the intelligence that humans possess is supreme and real. In other words, it refers to human-like intelligence as designed for machines/computers. So, Artificial Intelligence can be referred to as the ability of a machine/computer to perform tasks that if done by humans, would have been considered intelligent.

What does AI mean to a layman? When I searched AI in google images, I found pictures related to robots, electronic chips, brains, or robots performing various actions like thinking, clicking on screens, or shaking hands. Robotics is a subset of AI and can’t be regarded as synonymous with AI. It’s very easy to perceive AI with robotics because of the introduction of the concept of robots in various sci-fi movies/series for ages while other elements of AI like machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, convolutional network, and reinforcement learning appear less intuitive and more technical to a common man.

The history of Artificial Intelligence is deep and long. The seeds of present-day AI were planted in the 1940s with the invention of programmable digital computers whose work was based on mathematical reasoning. This encouraged scientists to think about the possibility of creating an electronic brain. Alan Turing, who is considered the father of artificial intelligence and modern cognitive science, proposed Turing Test(initially called the Imitation game) in 1950. Through this proposal, Alan Turing wanted to test if Machines can think. Under this test, three terminals were set up, one operated by computer and the rest two terminals by human beings. One human asked the same questions to other participants; a computer and another human and decided which answer came from whom. This practice was repeated multiple times. If the questioner is unable to distinguish between the answers of a computer and another human, then the computer is said to possess artificial intelligence.

In 1951, Game AI began to flourish when Christopher Strachey wrote a checker program and Dietrich Prinz wrote one for chess using the Ferranti Mark1 machine of the University of Manchester. In the mid-fifties, scientists began to recognize the ability of machines to identify numbers and symbols as an important essence of human thought. In 1955, Allen Newell and Herbert A Simon explained that a system composed of matter can have a mind.

The Dartmouth Conference of 1956 is considered the birth of AI. McCarthy came up with the phrase “Artificial Intelligence”. “Every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can be so precisely described that the machine can be made to simulate it.”, said the conference proposal. In 1958, John McCarthy invented the List programming language at MIT. The list was considered one of the languages that were best suited for developing AI. The period between 1956-1974 was considered the golden years when computers were seen solving algebraic problems, imitating voice, etc and funds from different organizations flooded to support research in this field. Richard Greenblatt, a programmer, created an intelligent knowledge-based chess-playing algorithm in 1968. This became the basis for building other AI-based games including the one which defeated the World Chess Champion.

Despite all the developments and advancements, there were times when the growth of AI suffered downhill and received a lot of doubts and criticism. It was the period of 1974- 1980 which is considered as First AI Winter. The capabilities of AI were seen as limited, and researchers could not overcome them. With a lack of progress, companies that once funded research related to AI started to withdraw funds.

The First AI Winter didn’t last long. In 1979, Internist, a knowledge-based medical diagnosis program was developed, that could leverage clinical knowledge to reach its diagnosis. This is considered one of the important milestones of AI. Another path-breaking moment in the history of AI was in 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue machine defeated then-world Champion, Garry Kasparov. The first Robocup Soccer Competition was held that year with the involvement of close to 40 teams of collaborative robots.

After that, the advancements in the field of AI have never stopped. Today, AI has occupied an important part of our lives. AI is everywhere. Big companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM, etc. have started using AI in their products. AI technology has been used in mobiles, and search engines, to find locations through GPS. They have been implemented in self-driving cars, virtual assistants, consumer electronics like Alexa, fitness bands, robotic vacuum cleaners, etc. In social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, AI is used to collect massive amounts of data to analyze recent trends. AI has simplified our travel experience from making travel arrangements to suggesting hotels and the best or fastest route to reach the destination. AI has been useful to farmers in crop monitoring and predictive analysis. In the same way, AI has revolutionized the e-commerce sphere by assisting shoppers in making the right choice for themselves.

With the increase in the application of AI in day-to-day life, one question that has surfaced is: Will AI take all jobs in the market in the future? Possibly not as AI can be delegated to perform repetitive and mundane tasks and other tasks involving deep thinking or reasoning can be handled by humans. According to the World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs Report 2020”, AI is expected to replace 85 million jobs worldwide by 2025. Even though that sounds scary, the report goes on to say that it will create 97 million new jobs in that same timeframe. So, this creates hope for the future.

What does the future of AI look like? From recent developments in AI, it can be inferred that AI will keep developing in a way that makes it possible for new disruptive business models and features. It will also play a key role in improving the quality of life by assisting humans in completing tasks quickly and efficiently. In this direction, emerging deep-learning technologies are expected to play a key role in analyzing a variety of inputs and producing the required outputs, and at the same time identifying patterns beyond what machine learning can currently provide. AI will be integrated into more and more gadgets in more and more contexts, such as automobiles, consumer electronics, etc. We can expect our future devices to exploit and implement different capabilities of AI. People will receive services from machines rather than humans due to increased efficiency and reduction of errors. Personal robots will be a part of households, asking for tasks to complete. The increased use of AI technology in cars will help in the reduction of accidents thereby saving millions of lives. These are among the infinite possibilities that AI can bring into our lives in the future, including those which are yet to be invented. However, human beings, the creator of AI, will remain irreplaceable.

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I have used QuillBot for editing my essay.

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