AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. I personally dislike the use of the abbreviation AI, as it is too cryptic and smells of a kind of pedantic code-word among some elite club members, who don’t want uneducated outsiders to know what it is. The truth is very few people know exactly what artificial intelligence is or can explain to others beyond shadow of doubt what it is. That includes myself, I must admit. This Artificial Intelligence Series, while going through the year end period, peaked at Christmas, spans a few weeks right smack through that period, I will take as much time as possible to slowly and gradually explain. The main reason is that I have received several emails from readers requesting for the proper and accurate definitions of Artificial Intelligence. They all unanimously stated that descriptions are often too hard to understand as they are full of complex technical terminologies. I agree. Go to Google, and you’d find many articles purportedly attempting to explain what Artificial Intelligence is, but sooner than latter these explanations would start using terminologies, which we laymen do not understand. I am an ESL guy — that is English as Second Language person. Because I wasn’t born here and didn’t grow up here in America (you can tell, can’t you?), and I learned my English mostly in the college (don’t do it if you can help it — your life is miserable to say the least!), my reading comprehension skills are vocabulary dependent. That means, when I encounter a written explanation of some concept I get discombobulated if the explanation text uses words that seem to assume I already understood the very concept I am struggling to understand. Do you see what I mean? This happens quite often, especially in scientific literature. There may be many causes. The number one cause is that the writer hasn’t fully understood the subject. He is trying to fake it by cleverly obfuscating the text. But, it is obvious. The second cause is that the writer is lazy. Instead of getting down to the basics, he/she tries to hurry up by using the higher-level terminology to explain lower level and more fundamental conceptual terms. In general, spending more substantial amount of time in understanding the basic concept fully benefits you by giving you a rich dividend in all cases. Now let’s get back to the main subject. What is Artificial Intelligence? OK, let’s get back one more step backward to the very fundamental question? What is intelligence? Yeah! That’s the spirit! Without fully understanding what intelligence is, one cannot progress in this scientific endeavor. One thing I strongly believe in is to go look at the basic definition of a word if you have slightest doubt that your understanding of the definition might not be accurate. So, I go to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. On its page 608, intelligence is defined as (1): the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations, (2) the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests),….. From (1) version of the interpretation, I am comfortable to arrive at the statement of “massive and multiple staged decision making.” If I see a person walking toward me on the street, I look at him/her and through thousands of yes/no decisions, I determine that this person is a friend of mine. What we now call “pattern recognition” (facial recognition) is nothing but a series of sequential questions, through which I can decide this person is a friend of mine — in fact he is Bob. And I’d say “Hi, Bob, how are you?” Therefore, I equate intelligence to be a decision-making ability when encountering a new situation. There may be thousands of decisions one must make to arrive at a conclusion such as this is Bob or this isn’t Bob after all. Each such decision consists of literally thousands of elementary decisions, and they are made at lightning speed to arrive at the conclusion. Yet, it is a simple decision when done. This man is a friend of mine called Bob, or he is NOT. The final decision that culminates to determine if he is Bob or not is made up of literally thousands or even millions of questions and answers, which are stored in our memory. As we get mature toward our adulthood from our childhood, the number of such questions and answers grow quickly. Experience in the actual living benefits in expanding memory and thus our life gets safer, richer and more rewarding. So, is intelligence just a large memory? The bigger the memory the better our life gets to be? Let’s explore the question. I am a dog lover and my current puppy is a two-year-old active female Golden Retriever. By now she knows all the details of our routine, and prompts me to get them done as she seems to lead me according to our daily schedule. Around 8 p.m., she come to me and looks invitingly to toward my bed. She wants to hop in and stretch by herself, but also, she is letting me know she is ready to sleep after a day of activity. I often wonder just how she manages that much of routine knowledge. She seems to understand pretty much everything I say to her. Of course, I wouldn’t say anything she wouldn’t understand or wouldn’t pay attention to, but I do admire how much communication she could accomplish without ever being able to speak. To be continued. Shintaro “Sam” Asano was named by MIT in 2011 as one of the top 10 most influential inventors of the 20th century. He lives on the seacoast of New Hampshire with his dog Sophie. You can write to Sam at sasano@americaninventioninstitute There are no comments yet. © Copyright 2006-2017 GateHouse Media, LLC. 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