MSc BTI: AI Speech

Artificial intelligence is becoming a topic of rising anticipation as well as concern. From the hope of lifesaving medical breakthroughs and everyday conveniences to the threat of a large, redundant workforce and the looming questions of morality.

Andrew Ng, a pioneer of modern AI, compared it to electricity. Saying that, just as electricity transformed every aspect of civilisation 100 years ago, artificial intelligence is beginning to do the same today.

History of AI

And also just like electricity, the ideas of artificial intelligence are all but new. The first functional program that resembles the modern definition of AI was written in 1951 by Christopher Strachey. The program ran on the first commercially available general-purpose computer, the Ferranti Mark I, and could play a full game of checkers at a reasonable speed.

By 1955, Arthur Samuel had taken Strachey's work and extended it. The program could match the current best version of itself against a randomised version, making the winning version the new standard. This became the first example of evolutionary computing and the basis for deep learning.

The field advanced exponentially soon after, with AI solving conventional IQ tests in 1963 and demonstrations of a general household robot in 1969. By the 1990s, autonomous driving and robotic chess grandmasters were no longer purely conjecture.

Nowadays, artificial intelligence is already being embedded into every device of a sufficient size and cost. Robotic toys are cheap and widely available; robotic vacuum cleaners are a convenient necessity in many households; robotic restaurants serve thousands of customers a day with minimal human supervision.

Thomas G. Evans. 1964. A heuristic program to solve geometric-analogy problems. In Proceedings of the April 21-23, 1964, spring joint computer conference (AFIPS '64 (Spring)). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 327-338. DOI: