3The Intelligence in the System: How Artificial Intelligence Really Works

3.1 What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence has been an intriguing branch of computer science ever since computers were invented. Intelligent robots were imagined even before that time. Given a computer that is capable of computing and processing large volumes of data very quickly, it's an easy jump to imagining that one day computers will be able to think, understand, and operate much as humans do – that they will be intelligent. But imagining and implementing are two different things. In fact, no one knows how to make an intelligent machine, if by intelligence, we mean what humans have and what animals have in much smaller amounts. That's because we don't know how humans and animals produce intelligence. We don't know how brains work, at least not enough that we could build a machine that does what a brain does. It is theoretically possible for us to figure that out someday, and thus be able to build a brain out of synthetic materials, much as we can now build an artificial heart, since we have fully understood what the heart does. While there are projects underway to try to understand the brain and then to build an artificial one, this is not the approach taken in the computer science of artificial intelligence.

It is much easier to build a machine, or a computer, that acts intelligently than it is to try to build a brain, but what counts as acting intelligently? Somewhat circularly, ...

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