Appendix A. What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Cooper: Hey TARS, what’s your honesty parameter?

TARS: 90 percent.

Cooper: 90 percent?

TARS: Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.

Cooper: Okay, 90 percent it is.

Scene from the movie Interstellar

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a discipline as old as the study of philosophy itself. It has evolved over time, yet we still struggle to find its place in society, let alone the existential implications for the human race itself. One of the most salient written lines about the beginnings of AI was by author Pamela McCorduck when she wrote that AI began with “an ancient wish to forge the gods.”1

While McCorduck had high-minded prose for the topic, much of marketing today plays on such aspirational themes yet is actually promoting far simpler functions in terms of business results. Deep learning comes up in the context of discussion of AI regularly, and it becomes difficult to have a directed conversation on the topic.

We added this appendix because the practitioner commonly needs to have a grounded conversation with customers, executives, and managers about what deep learning can do for them and how it fits into the AI landscape. The themes in this appendix are a mixture of a history of the discipline of AI (for context) and discussions we have had with customers and industry peers. We seek to provide you, the practitioner, with the tools to reset the narrative around ...

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