Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often depicted by science fiction authors and scientists as potentially equal—or superior—to human intelligence. Yet this dream may remain elusive until machines attain the basic human virtue of common sense, which the pioneering AI scientist Marvin Minsky defines as "an immense society of hard-earned practical ideas." (cited in Kurzweil, 2000, p. 91). Clearly, true AI, once it exists, would have an extraordinary impact on human society; denial of its possibilities could eventually shatter humanity's complacent belief in its guiding role as the planet's most intelligent form of life.
Meantime, other AI researchers are developing non-sentient "intelligent tools," applications that mimic particular human knowledge skills. These subsets of AI, such as data mining, neural networks, speech recognition and lip reading, behavior recognition, and face recognition, to name a few, are becoming increasingly powerful—and indispensable—to human organizations (Hogan, 1998).
Intelligent tools empower organizations to automate and rapidly complete mind-numbing tasks that would overwhelm an army of humans. Data mining, for example, is ideally suited to a powerful computer's ability to discern patterns from immense datasets. For retailers, knowledge of customer spending patterns permits more cost-effective advertising through targeted marketing campaigns. For the United States Government, the ability to analyze huge datasets (e.g., e-mail, Internet activity, telecommunications, and credit card transactions) may prove invaluable to the new national surveillance system, "Terrorist Information Awareness" (TIA), whose purpose is to uncover suspicious activity. (Negnevitsky, 2005). Intelligent tools will also become more adept in other routine, but labor intensive functions, such as parts assembly and customer call centers. As intelligent tools replace human labor, organizations will reconsider today's common business practice of outsourcing work to countries with the cheapest labor.
Impact on our daily lives
We use Artificial Intelligence so much today that it is not easy to appreciate the full impact it has on our lives on a daily basis. Almost every appliance that exists in daily life today, from toasters to washing machines, cars to computers, all have an element of AI in them. AI research has had both a positive and a negative effect on our lives today, although admittedly, the sociological impact has been more positive than negative.
Artificial intelligence has led to increased conservation of energy wherever it has been used (Nilsson, 1982). Air conditioning systems, for example, are able to automatically turn themselves off when the house temperature reaches a certain maximum level and turn back on when it gets too cold. The same applies to refrigerators and computers, where temperature control enables them to conserve power use and prevent waste of energy.
Intelligent systems make machines more...