Artificial Intelligence has been around since the 1950's. Alan Turing envisioned a machine that could think. He devised a test, aptly named the Turing Test, published in an article titled Computing Machinery and Intelligence. He proposed the notion that a computational machine could answer a series of questions from a panel of judges. The responses would be rational, thoughtful, and indistinguishable to another human.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the hot topic of the moment in technology, and the driving force behind most of the big technological breakthroughs of recent years. In fact, with all of the breathless hype we hear about it today, it's easy to forget that AI isn't anything all that new. Throughout the last century, it has moved out of the domain of science fiction and into the real world. The theory and the fundamental computer science which makes it possible has been around for decades. Since the dawn of computing in the early 20th century, scientists and engineers have understood that the eventual aim is to build machines capable of thinking and learning in the way that the human brain – the most sophisticated decision-making system in the known universe – does.
From intelligent personal assistants to home robots, technology once thought of as a sci-fi dream is now embedded into everyday life. But this leap from dream to reality didn't happen overnight. There is no one'eureka' moment in a field as vast as AI. Rather, the technology we enjoy today is a result of countless milestones in artificial intelligence, delivered by countless forgotten people across a countless range of projects. So, let's pay homage to some of that work.
It began with the "heartless" Tin man from the Wizard of Oz and continued with the humanoid robot that impersonated Maria in Metropolis. By the 1950s, we had a generation of scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers with the concept of artificial intelligence (or AI) culturally assimilated in their minds. One such person was Alan Turing, a young British polymath who explored the mathematical possibility of artificial intelligence. Turing suggested that humans use available information as well as reason in order to solve problems and make decisions, so why can't machines do the same thing? This was the logical framework of his 1950 paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence in which he discussed how to build intelligent machines and how to test their intelligence.
There are moments that live on in business history. One of them is the cry: "Mr Watson come here, I want to see you," spoken by Alexander Graham Bell back in 1876, in the world's first telephone conversation. Another significant moment was the day in 1997 when the IBM computer called Deep Blue beat the then world champion Gary Kasparov at chess. And then another IBM moment in 2011 when an even more intelligent computer called Watson -after the IBM founder Thomas Watson and his IBM chief executive son Thomas - won the TV game Jeopardy against human competition. These last two IBM contests demonstrate - we're told - big advances in machine intelligence.