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PBS Off Book Looks At the Rise of Artificial Intelligence

by Brandon Russell | July 12, 2013July 12, 2013 6:00 pm PDT

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Artificial intelligence is defined as “the capacity of a computer to perform operations analogous to learning and decision making in humans, as by an expert system, a program for CAD or CAM, or a program for the perception and recognition of shapes in computer vision systems.” Or, more simply, “modeling of human mental functions by computer programs.”

With the rise of smartphone and increasingly advanced technology, humans are edging closer to Will Smith’s I, Robot future. We have machines today that are capable of many things, and intelligent system that can perform simple tasks. But we’re not quite at the point of Johnny 5. We will be, it’s only a matter of time. We’re too fascinated by artificial intelligence not to get to that point.

In another very informative Off Book episode produced by PBS, the network investigates the rise of artificial intelligence, and how we might one day create a humanoid Frankenstein. According to PBS, the advancement of AI—computers and robots of Terminator-like levels—could have a profound effect on mankind; whether it’ll be positive or negative remains to be seen.

AI right now is all around us in a broad sense, things we take for granted everyday. From something like Google Translate, to something as accessible as Siri, engineers are constantly breaking new ground on what’s possible. But it’s the promise of creating an actual system, something like Tony Stark’s JARVIS, that so captivates people around the world.

“Strong AI means the attempt to build an AI system which will be equal to people in all respects,” says Ernest Davis, department of computer science, NYU. “That is to say, it can do all of the things people can do, plus presumably it has consciousness in some sense.”

PBS furthers asked questions such as, “How can we build intelligence,” and what the near and far future of AI will be like. Things like brain emulation, and how granting a robot with the same abilities as you and I can potentially change the way we interpret what is and isn’t human.

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...