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Introduction to AI: History, Components, Pros & Cons, Examples & Applications

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14th Apr, 2020
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Introduction to AI: History, Components, Pros & Cons, Examples & Applications

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about artificial intelligence. ‘AI this, AI that,’ there’s no stopping it. So it might make you wonder, “What is AI? Why is everyone talking about it?” 

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Don’t worry because, in this AI introduction, we’ll discuss this topic in detail. You’ll learn what AI is, and why it is so essential in the tech sector. Let’s get started. 

What is AI? Artificial Intelligence Explained

Intelligence refers to the ability to learn and solve problems. Humans are intelligent creatures. We’ve been learning about the issues we face and developing solutions for them for centuries. That’s why we’ve come so far.

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Now, humans thought, what if we could create something intelligent? And even if we create something intelligent, how would we measure its intelligence? 

We started facing a new problem now, and it was: How do we manufacture intelligence in something that is not human? And in our efforts to solve this problem, we came up with ‘artificial intelligence.’ 

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Intelligence is the ability to acquire knowledge. So we can say that artificial intelligence is capable of learning and applying the knowledge it gains. AI solutions act like humans, think like humans, and make choices like humans. 

These machines are capable of expanding their knowledge and make better decisions with their increasing awareness. And if we use AI with robots, we can avail of the advantages of those machines as well, such as higher efficiency. 
By using AI, you can create a solution that doesn’t need human supervision and can work as an autonomous body. AI has many benefits, and we’ll discuss them in detail. But first, let’s take a look at the history of this technology. 

History of AI

Remember the second problem we mentioned in the previous section, “How do we measure the intelligence of a machine?”

Alan Turing, a British mathematician, came up with this question in 1950 and published a paper named ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence.’ He also released a test which is called the Turing Test to help figure out whether a machine is intelligent or not. 

Apart from Turing, many researchers and mathematicians took an interest in this field. The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was coined in 1956 at a conference. Governments focused on its development for many years until 1980. Research on AI stopped during this period because of disinterest and slow progress. But after a few years, the work resumed.

In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated the Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov. Since then, AI has come a long way.

You can see it everywhere, from your mobile phones to hospitals. Many companies are focused on using AI to develop better solutions and solve various problems. 

Know more: Artificial Intelligence Applications

What Makes up Artificial Intelligence?

The field of artificial intelligence is broad. It has many subsets and sectors. Some people think that learning about computer science alone would be sufficient to become familiar with AI. But AI is much more than that.

You should first be familiar with the basic concepts of intelligence that include:

  • Understanding of language
  • Reasoning
  • Problem-solving
  • Learning

There are many other aspects of intelligence, but these were the most prominent ones. Apart from a general knowledge of intelligence, you should also learn about the following subjects:

  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Biology
  • Neurons

An AI system has an environment and an agent. The agent could be a human as well as a robot. And it has to achieve a specific goal in its environment. The agent has sensors to perceive the environment and effectors to act upon it. If it’s the only agent present in the background, then achieving its goal is quite a straightforward task. But if that’s not the case, then it would have to assess the environment, predict the possible outcomes, and adapt accordingly. This is a necessary explanation of how AI systems work. 

Also read: Learning Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Advantages of Artificial Intelligence

Following are the main advantages of AI:

1. Fewer Mistakes

Artificial intelligence solutions can reduce errors considerably. In many cases, humans cause errors due to fatigue, tiredness, or carelessness. AI software or machines don’t face these issues. As a result, they make fewer mistakes. Moreover, they learn from every iteration, which increases their accuracy further. 

2. Fast

AI systems can work at a more rapid pace than human teams. This makes them suitable for areas where high-performance is necessary. 

3. Reliable

As we mentioned earlier, AI systems don’t make errors. This makes them more reliable than other alternatives. You can trust them to work with higher accuracy and give you the results you wanted. 

4. Assistance

AI solutions are great at support. We use AI solutions to assist in various tasks. For example, airplane pilots use AI-based autopilot systems to help them in flying their planes. Another everyday example would be Google Maps. It uses AI to find the fastest routes between two places and gives you suggestions accordingly. 

5. Public Applications

AI is excellent for many public utilities. It can help public organizations with data management. A more advanced application of AI is self-driving cars. Self-driving cars would help in reducing traffic jams as well as accidents. There are many other areas where we can apply AI to enhance public services and utilities. 

Learn more: 5 Significant Benefits of Artificial Intelligence

Disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence

AI introduction has many advantages, but it has its drawbacks too. Here are the main problems of artificial intelligence:

1. Expensive

AI solutions are quite costly in comparison to other solutions. The hardware and the software necessary for a proper AI system are highly costly. However, as we make more technological advancements and develop cheaper solutions, we can solve this problem. 

2. Lack of Creativity

AI systems can be faster and smarter than humans, but they aren’t creative. They can’t imagine and come up with ‘out of the box’ solutions. This is why these solutions require human supervision in most cases. They only do what you instruct them to do. And so far, we haven’t come up with imaginative robots. 

3. No Emotions

AI systems lack emotions. They don’t feel happy or sad like we do. Experts say that modern AI is incapable of feeling emotions. But we have AI solutions that can perceive human emotions and react accordingly. Such AI solutions can help in many areas, including therapy and virtual assistance. 

4. More Dependence

As we develop better AI solutions, we’re becoming more dependent on technologies. Some people worry that relying more on technologies such as AI could lead to degradation in humans. 

Why do we need Artificial Intelligence?

Our introduction to AI will be incomplete if we don’t mention its importance. As you would’ve noticed, AI offers many advantages. Now we’ll try to understand why it is becoming necessary. 

Solve Large Problems

AI is capable of solving many significant problems. Various industries are employing AI to solve critical issues. For example, many organizations in the healthcare sector are using AI to streamline their workflow. Similarly, startups in the agriculture sector are using AI to solve significant issues. 

Cropin is a startup that uses AI to perform soil monitoring. It can help farmers in choosing better seeds and crops according to their soil. Apart from healthcare and agriculture, many other industries are using AI to solve their significant problems. These include finance, transport, education, and many others. 

Better Facilities

AI allows systems to enhance themselves. They can learn from their mistakes and improve their performance every time. This quality of AI solutions makes them suitable for many sectors. 

Companies can use AI systems to automate repetitive tasks. And we’ve already mentioned how public services can benefit from AI as well. All of these implementations lead to a better quality of life for the people as they get to enjoy enhanced facilities and services. 

New Opportunities

Artificial intelligence opens up tons of new opportunities for us. We can now use intelligent machines in places that are inaccessible for humans. The combined flexibility of artificial intelligence and machine learning makes them quite versatile. 

We are still exploring the numerous applications of AI in different sectors. No one knows what AI systems would be capable of in a couple of years. And it’s worth finding out. 

Examples of AI

Following are some prominent examples of AI in our day to day life:

  • Facial recognition system in a smartphone.
  • Google Maps uses AI to predict the fastest route between two locations.
  • Social media platforms use AI to monitor and remove inappropriate content from their sites.
  • E-commerce stores use AI to recommend products to a user according to the user’s purchase history.
  • Chatbots present on Facebook and websites.
  • Self-operating robots we use in manufacturing processes.
  • Smart assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri also use AI. Read more on everyday applications of AI.
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Learn more about AI 

We hope you liked our introduction to AI. This topic is vast, and we’ve tried to do it justice in this article. If you’re interested in learning more about artificial intelligence and its applications, we recommend heading to our blog. There, you’ll find plenty of useful guides and resources that can help you in your learning journey.

If you’re interested to learn more about machine learning, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s PG Diploma in Machine Learning & AI which is designed for working professionals and offers 450+ hours of rigorous training, 30+ case studies & assignments, IIIT-B Alumni status, 5+ practical hands-on capstone projects & job assistance with top firms.


Kechit Goyal

Blog Author
Experienced Developer, Team Player and a Leader with a demonstrated history of working in startups. Strong engineering professional with a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) focused in Computer Science from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What will our future look like with AI?

AI has captured our fascination for many years now, and the very mention of AI instantly brings up sci-fi illusions that we have so far seen in movies. But now that AI is a part of our reality, what most of us wonder is how it is going to shape or change our future. Will there be a day when robots take over our world, as many of us fear? AI is already all around us, but experts say that it cannot render human workers obsolete anytime in the foreseeable future. It will undoubtedly change how we work and how businesses function; it will become the standard across all industries.

2Can you learn machine learning without math?

Now that data science and machine learning are among the hottest career options, the primary necessity that comes to mind is our ability to crunch numbers and heavy doses of mathematical calculations. So does that mean that those who consider themselves not so great at numbers can never shape a career in machine learning? Well, having an understanding of mathematics helps you gain a better grip of how machine learning algorithms function. These algorithms are, after all, the basis of machine learning. While you might not need a lot of math when you are just a beginner in this field, a concrete mathematical ability will help you become more efficient in your job in the long run.

3What jobs can you do in the field of AI?

With AI being one of the most influential technologies in today's times, job opportunities in this field are continuing to rise steadily. According to Forbes, there has been a 74 percent increase in AI job roles every year. No matter the industry vertical, you will always find plenty of AI job roles everywhere. Some of the most lucrative roles in AI include becoming a Robotics Scientist, AI Engineer, Machine Learning Engineer, AI Research Scientist, etc.

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