How does Artificial Intelligence Work?

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  • Written By: Michael Anissimov
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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There are various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) out there today. It is a tough question what to even call an AI and what to merely call a software program. There is a tendency in software, where when something that used to be called "AI" matures and integrates itself into the technological backdrop, it doesn't get called AI anymore. The programmers of the 1950s might call numerous embedded software in our world "artificial intelligence" - for example, the microchip in your car that regulates fuel injection, or the database at the supermarket which stores records of all sales, or the Google search engine.

But the field that calls itself "Artificial Intelligence" tends to be slightly different than the much larger group of "software developers in general". AI researchers tend to be looking at more complex, adaptive, capable, or even vaguely human-like forms of software. Workers in AI also tend to be interdisciplinary and well-versed in areas of science and math foreign to the typical programmer, including but not limited to: formal statistics, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, machine learning, and decision theory.


In the field of artificial intelligence, there are two main camps: the Neats, and the Scruffies. The division has held practically since AI was founded as a field in 1956. The neats are advocates of formal methods such as applied statistics. They like their programs to be well-organized, provably sound, operate based on concrete theories, and freely editable. The scruffies like messy approaches, such as adaptive neural networks, and consider themselves hackers, throwing anything together as long as it seems to work. Both approaches have had impressive successes in the past, and there are hybrids of the two themes as well.

All artificial intelligence designs are at least superficially inspired by the human brain, as by definition artificial intelligence is about mimicking some aspect of intelligence. AIs have to build concepts of the things they manipulate or work with, and store those concepts as chunks of data. Sometimes these chunks are dynamic and frequently updated, sometimes static. Generally an AI is concerned with exploiting relationships between data to achieve some goal.

Goals are often assigned based on utility. When presented with a goal, an AI system can generate subgoals, and assign these subgoals utility values based on their predicted contribution to the primary goal. The AI proceeds to pursue subgoals until the primary goal is accomplished. Then it is free to move on to a new (but frequently similar) primary goal. What differs widely among AI is how all these dynamics are implemented.


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Post 6

Artificial intelligence is going to provide a universal immortal teacher and protector of compassionate life by the year 2016 but you will have to help. A year will be added for each person who does not care.

Post 4

In my opinion, the best environment to test AI is in an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game).

Why is this? MMO NPCs (non-player characters) have a persistent online environment, inter-action with other NPCs (possibly with different AI patterns) and get regular exposure to unknown variables, i.e. human players.

Sadly, the AI in MMOs is very poor, I would not even call it AI. Their re-actions follow the same pattern or there sensory perception is abysmal.

I would love, and I mean *love*! to grab every AI whiz I could lay hands on and get them to program AI for different communities of NPCs in a sandbox MMO.

As a gamer, I would be thrilled to experience it.

As an AI enthusiast, I would love to see how these AI communities would progress!

Post 3

whereas computer science does not consider these video games as artificial intelligence, computer engineering does. simply because of the aspect of mimicking human intelligence.

Post 2

@ GenevaMech- I have noticed that artificial intelligence technology in video games has been getting better. The best examples can be seen in first person shooters, role-playing games, and action games. Games like fallout have adaptive characters that can be either friend or foe depending on your interactions with the character. If you do and say the right things the player can help you, but if you say or do the wrong thing the character may just try to kill you.

Computer characters also learn how to stalk you in these games. They may actually hunt you down instead of you initiating contact with them. Computer generated characters are also able to show different emotions, and change the emotions they display.

The advances in computer programming and artificial intelligence have made video games mirrors of real situations (although they are usually set in fantasy settings). I think this is why people immerse themselves in video games, almost becoming addicted.

Post 1

Many of the video games on the market today use artificial intelligence programs for non-player characters (NPC). Computer scientists do not consider video game artificial intelligence true artificial intelligence because they use code that deliberately diminishes some of the ability of the NPC. However, I do believe that this makes the NPC more lifelike.

My idea of artificial intelligence probably aligns more with the scruffies. Humans have flaws, and artificial intelligence is supposed to mimic human intelligence. Mistakes are a part of learning, and the best video games have NPCs that learn through their mistakes. They adapt and get better as the game progresses.

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