The term “artificial intelligence” was coined fairly recently in 1955, but there are far deeper roots to the idea of smart machines doing our bidding, going back to the ancient myths of Greece, India and China. Maybe that’s why AI has such an impact on our imagination, and why there’s been so much hype around the technology in recent years.
But AI is not a myth and it’s not a magic machine. It’s a technology like any other, that has reached a new productivity plateau after decades of research. This has been made possible by cheap processing power and abundant data and AI and machine learning are now useful tools in a variety of fields, including astronomy, health care , transportation.
AI is finally becoming useful, after years of promise. But the usual thing that happens with useful technologies is that they disappear. We forget the things that just work and we shouldn’t let AI do that. Any technology intended to change the world needs scrutiny, and AI needs scrutiny more than most, with its combination of enormous imaginative presence and very real, very dangerous failures.
So for the AI Issue at The Verge, we ‘re taking a closer look at some of the ways in which artificial intelligence and machine learning affect technology right now — because it’s too late to understand something after it’s changed the world.