3203. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

AI as a Whole


The current research of AI can be summarized by analyzing the various answers to the basic questions.

1. What is AI?

Roughly speaking, Artificial Intelligence (AI) aims at building of computer systems that is similar to the human mind. However, different aspects of the human mind have been focused in different approaches: From top to bottom, they correspond to descriptions of human intelligence in more and more general level, and to reproduce that description in computer systems. Since different descriptions have different granularity and scope, the above objectives are related, but still very different, and do not subsume each other. The best way to achieve one is usually not a good choice for the others.

2. Can AI be built?

Since the idea of AI or "thinking machine" appeared, there have been various objections against it. Some people claimed that they have proved that AI, or whatever it is called, is simply impossible, due to certain fundamental limitations of computers. Common arguments include: Many researchers has rejected some of the objections. Classical arguments can be found in the following works: Obviously, AI researchers believe that AI can be built, that is, computer systems can become more and more similar to the human mind, in various senses.

3. How to build AI?

To achieve the ultimate goal of AI, different overall strategies have been followed in AI research: Obviously, the selection of development strategy partially depends on the selection of the research objective. Currently the mainstream AI mostly follows the first approach, while the Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) community has been exploring the other two approaches.

4. Should AI be built?

Even if we have found out how to achieve AI, it does not necessarily mean we really want to do it. Like all major scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs, AI has the potential to revolutionize our life and even the fate of the human species, either in a nice way or an evil way — or, as things usually go, a mixture of the two.

Common concern of AI includes:

AI researchers are aware of their responsibility on this topics, though most of them think that, according to the currently available evidence, progress in AI research will benefit the human species than to destroy it.

Of course, many crucial problems remain open, but to find their solutions, the research of AI should be speed up, not slowed down. Most wide-spreading concerns and fears about AI are based on misconceptions about the nature of AI.