AI in Computer Science

Computer science is where most people today look for artificial intelligence. It also provides a possible answer to the question on this page, “What is a machine?” because the computer science definition of artificial intelligence starts at the other end by saying that an intelligent machine would “read” and understand the nature of the environment in which it found itself and, faced with a specific goal, work out what options in its armory of capabilities and competencies could help it achieve that goal.

Here, some of the limitations of artificial intelligence (at least in the current state of affairs) become clear. A faucet can detect where in the area below it the vessel into which it is to pour fluid has been placed and can move until it is above the vessel before beginning the flow, thus avoiding flooding the area. Very few people would define that as intelligence.

AI in Computer ScienceIt is for this reason that some devices have been seen as representing artificial intelligence when a more careful examination says that they lack any cognitive functions and are merely using the most cutting-edge techniques to mimic human actions that do depend on cognitive functions. The development of driverless cars takes this example and makes it clearer. Driverless cars that can perform adequately on underpopulated roads but cause accidents or demand that human drivers take evasive action when sharing roads with human users may be cutting-edge but they are not intelligent. They may come to be regarded as intelligent when they have learned to drive on populated roads without causing inconvenience or danger to other road users (including other driverless cars).

Does equipping a car with sensors and giving it an on-board computer sufficiently well programmed to detect other road users and take avoiding action when necessary amount to intelligence? Does it represent the exercise of cognitive functions? That will be a subject for discussion around dining tables all over the country; for what it’s worth, this website believes that such behavior falls short of genuine artificial intelligence.