We’re all familiar with the term artificial intelligence by now, since it comes up more and more in the news and in the names of popular and reliable apps. The question is, if someone were to ask you to define artificial intelligence, what would you say? Do you know what artificial intelligence is? Moreover, are you familiar with what its main pros and cons are? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you needn’t worry. We’ve devised a beginner’s guide to artificial intelligence (AI), which will answer all of these questions and more.

Artificial Intelligence Definition

If we look at the most basic definition of artificial intelligence, we’ll find out that it’s a field of computer science that has the purpose of creating intelligent machines which are able to not only do tasks that humans can do, but also think as if they were human. Otherwise put, artificial intelligence is a field that works on developing computers that can replace humans in areas where a certain amount of intelligence is required.

Computers that scientists consider artificial intelligence do things such as planning, organizing, learning, solving problems, and recognizing speech. Basically, any computer or software that does something that we regard as being an intelligent thing that humans normally do can be considered AI.

Guide to Artificial Intelligence Types

There are two main types of artificial intelligence out there, and they’re grouped according to their purpose. These are weak AI and strong AI.

Weak AI

Weak artificial intelligence refers to systems that simply work on narrow tasks, not to systems that are highly intelligent and can think as a human being would. Basically, even if there are systems that behave like a human, they’re not as intelligent as humans, and can’t do things as well as they do.

Strong AI

As opposed to weak AI, strong AI (also called artificial general intelligence) is directed towards simulating human intelligence and reasoning. Thus, strong AI is not just about building systems that think like humans, it’s about building them to allow us to understand how human themselves think. Something we must mention is the fact that strong AI is still largely hypothetical. While scientists are constantly working on developing strong AI systems, we don’t actually have any pertinent examples of systems that can simulate human cognition yet.

Difference Between Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML)

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are both quite popular keywords nowadays. In fact, many people tend to confuse the two or be unsure of whether there’s a clear difference between them or not. The truth is that AI is quite different from ML, and we’re going to explain why.

Simply put, machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence. As we’ve already established, AI is the field in charge of developing machines that possess human intelligence. Now, keeping that in mind, think of ML as an application which states that all humans should do is provide machines with data, to which they should be able to learn things without us interfering.

Artificial Intelligence Pros and Cons

Pros

Less Errors

One of the most important pros of artificial intelligence is the fact that we can use it to make sure we make less mistakes. AI is much more precise and accurate in many respects, which can ensure less human mistakes in many different fields.

Increased Resistance

There are certain things that human beings can’t do, or that they can do but have to suffer the consequences afterwards. For instance, let’s take space exploration. We can send robots to explore space instead of humans, which could guarantee greater success. That’s because since robots are made of metal, they’re much more resistant to extreme space conditions. The hostile environment can’t hurt them, they can adapt to multiple conditions, and they can collect useful data better than any human could.

Accomplishing Tedious Tasks

Sometimes, it’s really frustrating to have to take care of monotone and laborious tasks when you could be doing something else with your time. What if artificial intelligence could take care of those tasks for you? It already is, up to a certain point and in certain fields. Still, it can definitely develop more and make our lives easier.

Becoming Digital Assistants

Having a digital assistant will definitely increase your productivity, minimize the amount of mindless work that you have to do, and also save money for human resources that would take care of the same tasks.

Lack of Emotions

Finally, yet another pro of AI is the fact that emotions won’t get in the way of a machine doing its job. This is something that can easily happen to humans. Robots think logically and make decisions based on facts, not on emotions.

Cons

Expensive

One of the main cons of artificial intelligence is that it can be really expensive, both to develop and to maintain. Still, scientists are constantly working on making them better and ensuring they won’t need repairs as often.

Failing to Improve in Time

Another important flaw of AI is that, unlike humans, it can’t learn from experience. While it can store data and perform certain tasks, it can’t actually do anything other than what humans program it to do. What’s interesting to note here is that some people think of this as a pro. This happens in the context of the fear that machines could overthrow humans and endanger the human race.

Lacking Ethics

Strongly related to the previous point, the idea that developing machines that replicate human beings is unethical has been around from the very beginning of artificial intelligence. Some people think that according to morals, we shouldn’t provide a machine with intelligence that is normally naturally given.

Lacking Human Touch

Replacing certain humans with machines when it comes to tedious tasks sounds great. Still, the truth is that some jobs would be unable to function properly if done by machines. For instance, think of caregivers or nurses. Would a machine be able to be as understanding and caring as a human being? Not yet.

Final Thoughts

Artificial intelligence and its applications are undoubtedly fascinating, whether you fear or admire them. As scientists continue to work on developing AI, people are concerned about the negative aspects of relying too much on machines. Whatever the outcome may be, one thing’s for sure, and that’s that artificial intelligence will continue to make headlines for years to come.

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