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Unleashing the Minds of Machines: A Journey through the History of Artificial Intelligence

8 minute read | June 27, 2023 Share Share

The history of AI is one rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs, groundbreaking twists, and world-defining turns. Undeniably, AI has become a big part of the modern digital landscape, as the emergence of it had led to revolutionary discoveries and its continuous growth still holds a major impact in all vital industries in every part of the world. From its very humble beginnings to its current indestructible influence on our daily lives, AI’s fascinating history truly showcases the power of a simple idea turning into a grand vessel of change.

The Genesis Artificial Intelligence 

If you think the concept of AI solely comes from vintage science fiction novels or some backward anti-technology propaganda by hardcore conservatives from the late 19 century, think again, and think magic. 


According to an article published by the Harvard University College of Arts and Sciences website, the concept of intelligent machines capable of adapting the method of human thinking actually comes from Wizard of Oz— specifically, the “heartless” Tin Man of Oz released in the 1900s.


This was followed by the then-groundbreaking concept of a much more condensed and direct version of a machine humanoid that impersonated the character Maria in the two-hour German 1927 film Metropolis. 


From this creative and imaginative content, the concept of man-made robots capable of human thinking emerged and infiltrated the young minds of future scientists, mathematicians, and academics who will later on pursue the journey of conceptualizing and building the form of artificial intelligence we know today. 

The Birth Of Artificial Intelligence

It was around the 1940s when British polymath Alan Turing, the father of artificial intelligence, began exploring the mathematical realm where the possibility of man-made machines capable of simulating human intelligence might exist. 


And it was not long until he had proven that the concept was, in fact, viable by following the same process of human thinking: which is based decision-making based on existing concepts and facts. This was the framework of his 1950s paper called Computing Machinery and Intelligence, in which he tackled how humans can make machines that can execute human-like deliberation.

The Dartmouth Conference Where Artificial Intelligence Was Given A Name

In a pivotal moment in technological history, computer scientist John McCarthy took the microphone and hosted a Dartmouth conference in 1956 where he coined the now universally accepted term “AI” referring to artificial intelligence. The conference initially was thought to be a failure due to the lack of organization of the event, actually giving rise to many academic’s interest and support that AI was indeed feasible. 


From then on, the main concept of AI, as we know it today, has stuck to a label, one which helped scientists, mathematicians, and academics to compile all their inputs and knowledge, which, albeit slowly, had given likeness to the modern AI we know today. 

In the following decades, AI experienced its first significant leaps after the Dartmouth conference, with a few setbacks that also pushed for more investigation and streamlining of the science of the technology. The concept was already established, and researchers focused more on the symbolic reasoning and problem-solving skills of AI. 


One of the most notable and cornerstone achievements of AI from his period is the development of the Logic Theorist, which is a highly intricate and revolutionary computer program built by computer scientists Allen Newell, Herbert A. Simon, and system programmer Cliff Shaw. The Logic Theorist was designed to prove mathematical theorems, although the overall program was deemed lacking, which then led to a significant hiatus in AI development in the 1970s. 

The Impact Of Artificial Intelligence

In the 1980s, AI research and development took another breath as the decade gave rise to the use of expert systems that made use of knowledge-based information systems and rules to solve problems. American scientist John Hopfield and American psychologist David Rumelhart popularized the AI technique known as “deep learning,” which was a concept already introduced four decades prior. Deep Learning allowed programming systems to gain knowledge from interacting with their surroundings. 


These systems were designed to take the then almost impossible leap towards finally achieving an AI program that can adapt expert-like deliberation. However, the almost impossible leap remained too challenging, as the research showed that developed AI systems at the time still had its obvious limitations. 


In the next decade, AI turned to adapting what the original sentiment of Alan Turing was — developing artificial intelligence by learning data, just as how humans do. This idea, referred to as machine learning, allowed computers to learn from data and use the provided information to develop their performance over time. This process was inspired by what was then the general idea of how the human brain work, which allowed AI to adopt a better way of “learning” that led to future advancements. 


Groundbreaking AI inventions also gave rise to the first chatbot in the 1990s, named A.L.I.C.E. which is a language program with the capability of carrying a conversation with a person by learning from the human's input.


By the 2010s, machine learning has completely transformed the way modern technology interacts with society. Remarkable breakthroughs were made and face recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing were technological advancements that were present in each person’s digital hand phone. AI is as common as the camera and it has embedded itself in many aspects of major human processes that the world without AI has become unimaginable. 

The Present And Future Of AI

In recent years, AI undoubtedly continues to progress rapidly, even achieving groundbreaking success, such as the AI program AlphaGo defeating a world champion, Go player Lee Sedol. Technological advancements in the science of natural language processing and computer vision have also integrated into many aspects of the modern world, such as content creation, learning, security, and even sports.


The history of AI is a testament to human perseverance and our natural disposition to always strive for innovation. From its early foundations to the current era of its integration with multiple facets of our modern world, AI has definitely come a long way. Its past is a story for us to learn from, and its present is for us to reflect on. For the future of AI, as with everything, nothing can be stated as sure and done. But in the present, AI is still continuing to evolve and if its mere existence was an extraordinary dream 100 years ago, we can only imagine what incredible feats it can achieve in the future. 

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