Today We’ll dive into the popular field of Artificial Intelligence, or “AI”. From driverless cars, to robots who beat humans at Chess and Jeopardy, the field of artificial intelligence is one of the most exciting and promising areas of computer science. The art and science of crafting programs that mimic, and even surpass human intelligence, is tremendously important. However, there are also some ethical questions, and fears when it comes to AI. There have been many science fiction books and futuristic movies made about machines and robots that take over the world (i.e. The Terminator, The Matrix, etc.)

IBM’s Deep Blue computer was the first computer to beat a human at chess. In 1997, Deep Blue defeated the World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. There was a documentary film called Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine that was made about this match.

Here are some good prompts to start a class discussion around Artificial Intelligence:

Question: What are some criteria you would use to classify a computer as “intelligent”?

  • There is no one definition, but researchers agree on some common traits:
    • Ability to make ‘smart’ decisions
    • Ability to learn and increase knowledge
    • Ability to imitate humans (language/speech, vision/image recognition)
  • The computer scientist, Alan Turing invented the “Turing Test” that was an effort to create a test that would determine if a machine was intelligent.

Question: What are some things that computers could do if we had better AI programs?

  • Some examples: diagnose diseases, drive our cars, fly airplanes, order groceries for us, do our laundry, be our personal translator when we travel, do our banking and money management, etc.

Question: If a computer is intelligent, does that mean it has its own consciousness, meaning, is it self-aware?

  • AI doesn’t necessarily mean that a computer can feel, or that it has its own personality. However, many researchers have been studying whether there are “robot rights” that we need to be aware of.