What is it?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of a machine to undertake cognitive functions normally associated with humans, for example deduction and reasoning, knowledge representation, planning, natural language processing (NLP), learning, perception and the ability to manipulate and move objects. Long-term goals for AI research include achieving creativity, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence. AI is a broad terms that can be split into two distinct categories. Narrow AI – as its name suggests focuses on narrow tasks. Common examples of narrow AI are Siri and Cortana, the digital assistants created by Apple and Microsoft respectively.

More advanced artificial intelligence is categorised as general AI and refers to technology that is as smart as the human brain. IBM’s Watson and Google’s Deepmind are two good examples of this technology. The goals of General AI include problem solving, reasoning and the ability to absorb knowledge. This learning function allows AI to interact with its environment.

There has been debate over the development and use of AI, concerning both how to programme machines and how to apply ethics to non-human actors with human capabilities.

How did the technology develop?

The ideas surrounding the existence of Artificial Intelligence stretch far back in time. AI has consistently remained a popular topic within works of fiction. Prior to the 19th Century, polymaths such as Gottfried Leibniz had attempted to create problem-solving machines. Despite the work of numerous 20th Century figures, including Alan Turing’s development of a computation machine in the 1930s, it was not until the middle of the century that the field of Artificial Intelligence was given formal recognition. By the end of the century, technological advancements allowed for better development and research. In 1997, IBM’s chess-wizard computer beat the reigning world champion. Since then, the interest in AI has grown, with technology giants Google, Microsoft and Apple all investing in powerful forms of Artificial Intelligence. Today, the most accessible forms of AI can be found on our smartphones in the form of personal assistants or automated customer services.


AI was initially created to help solve some of the most difficult problems in computing. However, the technology’s problem-solving ability means that it is also well suited to a number of other roles. AI Robots can be used for repetitive, manual tasks which can be dangerous for humans who can become fatigued or bored and lose concentration. AI is also used in the healthcare industry as a tool for medical diagnosis. Due to voice recognition capabilities, AI can also be used for automated customer services. Skype are currently using AI voice recognition to create a language translator that can translate different dialects in real time. Through learning patterns and using logic, AI has proved a useful tool for Finance and Security by tracking and identifying abnormal occurrences. Artificial Intelligence has also inspired games and toys for children, including the well-known Furby and robotics company Anki’s latest creation, Cozmo.

Artificial Intelligence

The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages

Market Size

IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty has predicted that cognitive computing will generate $2 trillion USD within the next decade. In a report published earlier this year, marketsandmarkets.com estimated that the global worth of the AI market would exceed $5 billion USD by 2020. Another report by Transparency Market Research was less optimistic, setting the benchmark at over $3 billion USD by the year 2024.

2020 forecast market value 5$B
2024 forecast market value 3$B
2030 forecast market 2000$B

Interview with Ginni Rometty

More videos

The History of Artificial Intelligence

Panel discussion on the state of AI

Elon Musk on AI

The future of AI

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