Artificial intelligence (AI) is the capability of a machine or a computer system to emulate human behavior and to rival or surpass human intelligence and physical abilities. To date, practical developments in artificial intelligence have been concentrated in the areas of deduction, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge, planning, learning, natural language processing, motion and manipulation, perception, social intelligence, and creativity. The ultimate goal is to create artificial general intelligence, the integration of the aforementioned skills at levels of proficiency that meet or exceed those of normal human abilities. Given the rate at which computer processing capabilities are improving, it is considered feasible that artificial general intelligence can be achieved before 2050.

 

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At present, no AI system has passed the classic Turing test for intelligence in which a human evaluator communicating with both an AI system and a human being via text messages is unable to distinguish between the responses of the human and the AI system. There are, however, an increasing number of successful subject matter Turing tests where computer systems are able to independently solve specific problems in areas such as chemistry, hand-writing recognition, and game-playing. Significant AI advances have been made in motion and manipulation: a biped robot has successfully navigated stairs and a robot head is beginning to emulate human facial expressions. Subject matter artificial intelligence technology has found commercial applications in medicine, stock trading, robotics, legal applications, scientific research, the video game industry, the toy industry, and internet search engines.

Futurists speculate that artificial general intelligence will eventually reach a stage where it will be able to improve itself at a rate which defies current conception, a scenario that is called technological singularity. Ethics for artificial intelligence are being developed to address the moral and legal issues that could arise if artificial general intelligence gives rise to sentient entities with the ability to feel pleasure and pain, potentially entitling them to same rights as human beings. Researchers have theorized that the continued development of AI will result in increased productivity as well as greatly enhanced abilities and entirely new avenues of human experience via human to machine interfaces. It has been postulated that artificial general intelligence will become a significant factor in human evolution that will actively shape the path of human destiny in future generations.

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Copyright David Bell 2009