If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
The term "artificial intelligence" was coined in 1955 to convey the concept of general intelligence: the notion that all human cognition stems from one or more underlying algorithms, and that by programming computers to think in the same way, we could create autonomous systems modeled on the human brain. Their method--which worked bottom up to find patterns in growing volumes of data--was called IA, short for "intelligence augmentation." IA is behind real-world applications such as language processing, machine learning and human-computer interaction. Whether you call them AI or IA, these cognitive systems, such as IBM IBM -3.64 % 's Watson, can ingest vast amounts of data, learn from it, and then reason in the form of hypotheses or recommendations.
Technology companies are hurriedly snapping up startups in the field of artificial intelligence, and Intel Corp. INTC -0.32 % is the latest to join a buying spree fueled by one of the hottest trends in the tech sector. The chip maker on Tuesday announced plans to pay an undisclosed amount for Nervana Systems, a 48-employee company working on semiconductors, software and services to exploit a popular AI technique called deep learning. Intel's move follows a deal disclosed Friday by Apple Inc. AAPL 0.23 % to purchase Turi Inc., a Seattle-based specialist in the field. The two acquisitions add to a string of 31 purchases since 2011 of AI startups by large companies, according to venture-capital research firm CB Insights. Factoring in smaller acquirers, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP counts 29 related acquisitions so far this year, suggesting the total deal count for 2016 will top the 37 deals announced last year.
And they're seeking lots of input to make sure industry desires are reflected and potentially useful technologies aren't trampled. Until a few years ago, FAA leaders privately hoped they could take their time to gradually phase unmanned aerial systems into U.S. airspace. The European Union is expected to give the European Aviation Safety Agency clear-cut authority in this arena by early 2017. Stressing that his staff is waiting for companies and drone advocates to propose specific safety and performance standards, Mr. Tytgat said, "you have seen how much regulators are ready to help industry."
Tesla Motors Inc. and Chief Executive Elon Musk have encountered a rough road in June, capped by a regulators' disclosure late Thursday that the electric car maker's autopilot feature is linked to a death in Florida. Last week Mr. Musk proposed that Tesla acquire SolarCity Corp., a solar energy company, in an all-stock deal valued at up to 2.8 billion. Tesla shares fell 12% last week after the announcement of its proposed acquisition of SolarCity but had made up much of that ground in recent days. The company's rough patch follows questions coming earlier in the year about Tesla's ability to ramp up production in time to meet the strong demand for its lower cost Model 3 electric sedan, which is due in 2017.
Sport-utility vehicles are currently the bright spot in a cooling Chinese auto market, but electric vehicles dominated this year's Beijing auto show. Elsewhere, Future Mobility, Foxconn Technology Group 2354 -2.06 % 's joint venture with Tencent, has hired executives from BMW AG BMW -2.48 % 's i-series electric vehicle development team. LeEco has ties with California-based electric car maker Atieva and startup Faraday Future, and cooperates with state-run auto maker BAIC Motor Corp. 1958 3.48 % Electric vehicles in China are exempt from certain restrictions facing their gasoline-fueled counterparts. Hou Yankun, head of China equity and Asian auto research at UBS, estimates that in 2015 China's central and local governments spent a total of 90 billion yuan, or 14 billion, in the sector, including direct cash subsidies for electric vehicle makers and construction on public charging stations.
Mr. Ghosn said government officials in poorer countries and other emerging markets should decide whether to require car companies to equip vehicles with air bags and other standard safety features. Nissan began offering air bags on certain top-end Datsun vehicles in India last year amid criticism from safety advocates that they lacked the feature. Mr. Ghosn said auto makers' forecasts for 2015 sales weren't high enough. He added forecasts in the U.S. and Europe are once again too cautious amid low gasoline prices and interest rates, while acknowledging car makers do better to prepare for worse results and enjoy good times when they materialize.