A Brief History of AI
The story of Artificial Intelligence is as old as Greek antiquity (Greek myths incorporated the idea of intelligent robots). It all began with myths, stories and rumors of artificial beings gifted with intelligence by master craftsmen. As Pamela McCorduck puts it: “Artificial Intelligence began with an ancient wish to forge the Gods.” McCorduck was popular for penning books concerning the history and philosophical significance of Artificial Intelligence.
But, when were the seeds of modern Artificial Intelligence planted? In the 1940s, a programmable digital computer was invented – a machine based on the abstract essence of mathematical reasoning. It was this idea that inspired many scientists to believe that it was possible to build an electronic brain.
“Can machines think?”
The above quote by a British mathematician Alan Turning was questioned in his 1950 paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence.’ And in 1956, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was created at a conference held at Dartmouth College, where researchers namely: Allen Newell, J C. Shaw and Herbert A. Simon pioneered the newly created artificial intelligence field with the Logic Theory Machine. Despite the intensive research and experiments conducted by many scientists on Artificial Intelligence, the British Government withdrew funding research into artificial intelligence in 1973.
It was only in the early 1980s that a program was launched in Japan to develop an innovative computer architecture that could advance the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). By the end of the decade, high hopes for the potential of these systems (AI technology) were eventually tempered. Their limitations included – a glaring lack of common sense, the difficulty of capturing experts and the cost of building and maintaining large systems. This forced researchers to shelve the experiment.
However, in the year 2000, a number of factors such as big data, the internet and new algorithms helped renew progress in Artificial Intelligence.
The impact of Artificial Intelligence
A study conducted by Deloitte recently revealed that as many as 36% of jobs in the UK are at risk of being automated. Amongst the industries that are set to be hardest hit are retail, transportation, hospitality and manufacturing industries. However, optimism is at an all-time high today, because AI is now perceived to have almost magical powers of analysis and insight.
The invention of Artificial Intelligence has caused worldwide excitement, but what exactly does AI mean?
The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence.
So, when it comes to business – will machines ever make better decisions than humans? An article was published in The Guardian that outlined how up to 60% of the work we currently do will be entirely replaced by machines, within two decades. It further stated that the process has already begun with the development of smartphones – making medium-skilled jobs disappear as executives replace their secretaries/assistants due to the smartphone’s automatic filing systems feature.
Nevertheless, computers undertake tasks that require speed and precision efficiently, (which humans may find difficult) yet they are bad at simple tasks that humans find effortless to do, for example –: clearing coffee cups from a table.
There is also the question of values and morality. Can computers have values? Stuart Russel, an artificial intelligence expert from England argues that it is already possible to programme computers on the basis of utility.
Will artificial intelligence result in increased unemployment?
A recent Mirror article highlighted a survey that was carried out for Hive by British Gas, where the results suggested: 48% of UK adults agreed that AI becoming mainstream will result in increased unemployment.
Over 2,000 Britons took part in the poll (as part of the survey) and surprisingly the main concern came from those aged 18-34.
Geraint Johnes, director of Lancaster University’s work foundation explained why young people are most concerned about AI. He said: “It is not surprising that young people are most concerned about the effects of technological change, because it is for them that the changes that lie ahead will have most impact.”
He further added: “They will need to reskill, maybe several times over, during their working lives. But ultimately these changes will make us more productive and machines cannot cause unemployment to rise – only people can do that.”
Whilst 40% of respondents in the survey said that they saw the potential for AI, they also said that it needs to be managed securely.
It’s likely that most companies will bring some form of AI into the workplace gradually. However, before current jobs are superseded by AI, companies must monitor progress, think, plan and prepare to adapt.
Is your organisation ready to embrace artificial intelligence? If you have any solutions and innovative ideas that can help businesses and recruiters understand how AI will serve the workplace, then attend our upcoming event. Expedite Consulting’s HRIS event brings together the UK’s senior business leaders and HR directors together to discuss issues and solutions related to HR and business.