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Technology - Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence research

Many academic institutions, companies and corporations worldwide are involved in artificial intelligence research. While some focus exclusively on the hardware aspect of robotic machinery and androids - such as the prosthetics involved in creating elbow and knee joints and the artificial intelligence needed to control these, for example, others are focused on the workings of the artificial mind, creating deductive reasoning and other complex issues that mimic our own brain and our physical neural network.

Hardware issues of artificial intelligence can be the control of a body, as in the case of an intelligent, humanoid, robot. But also the hard-wiring of a simulated brain, as is the case with Asimov's "positronic" brain, or the brain of "Data", the android in the Star Trek television series.

Software issues can involve logic, action-reaction, response, speech and visual recognition tasks and of course the programming languages needed to write these programs.

Designing and creating a neural network similar to our own is one of the most difficult aspects of creating an artificial intelligence  (see also Neural Networks, Nanotechnology and Robotics). This approach requires both hardware and software or wetware, also known as biological hardware.

The human neural network is a vastly complex development spanning millions of years of biological evolution with the core going back maybe a billion years or more, to the very first "life" form.

Most parts of this network are autonomous and require no conscious thought. If we had to consciously tell our bodies to breathe air, pump blood or instruct muscles to contract or relax for movement and other bodily functions, we wouldn't be here. It would be impossible.

Thus much of our functioning is subconscious and autonomous, with only our reasoning mind, and our "self", whatever that may be, in need of constant attention.

Designing an artificial intelligence of this complexity is not possible with our current technological knowledge and we may never achieve anything closely resembling it. (Unless, of course, we design intelligent machines to do it for us.)

Do we need artificial intelligence?

With a growing world population, many of which are unemployed and uneducated, do we really need artificial intelligences that cost billions to research and to build? Wouldn't it be better to spend all that money on developing the human condition instead?

The simple answer would be Yes. In order to create a more level playing field for humanity we really need to educate those that lack education and provide positive employment for them. With all that brain power available who needs artificial intelligences. But that is easier said than done.

Until we have a unified world government that would allocate resources on a more equal scale it doesn't seem likely. Countries with the highest unemployment and lowest educational level generally suffer from inept and corrupt governments, and under current international agreements, there is no interference in internal affairs.

The best we can do is let advanced nations develop advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and use these developments at some future time to aid our poorer fellow humans.

So perhaps we don't need artificial intelligence but it may provide the way to a better future for all of us.

See also: Neural Networks, Nanotechnology and Robotics.

Some organizations involved in artificial intelligence research

American Association of Artificial Intelligence (USA)
International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute (UK)
Sun Microsystems Solutions - Artificial intelligence catalog of tools (USA)
Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research (AT)
U.S. Air Force - Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (USA)
Arthur Murray, Create A Standard - AI, a theory of mind

Centre for Advanced Learning Technologies - Artificial life applications and tools

IBM - Artificial Intelligence research projects
NASA - Evolving better spacecraft through the use of artificial intelligence
SRI International - Artificial Intelligence Division (USA)
Spanish Scientific Research Council - Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (ES)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (USA)
The Journal of Machine Learning Research (USA)
Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence (USA)
University of Bielefeld (D) - RoboCup virtual soccer
University of Košice (SK) - Artificial Intelligence Groups
University of Zürich (CH) - Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
The Robotics Institute - Current Artificial Intelligence Projects (USA)

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