By Jason Foodman – Artificial intelligence (AI) was once little more than speculative fiction. Science fiction epics of the past, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, explored the topic as a prediction of potential futures, which seemed possible but bewilderingly distant. Today, AI has become a conversation topic at the dinner table, an emerging technology as inspiring as it is frightening, and created a very real question: What now?
While it might seem to have happened quickly, in reality, the technology has been evolving for decades. Early computer scientists created problem-solving algorithms, modeling the logic around how both humans and nature itself solved problems.
In the early 1990s, while pursuing a Master’s in Computer Science, my research and subsequent thesis was in one such area known as Genetic Algorithms. The idea I was exploring revolved around problem-solving using an evolutionary approach by which solutions improved over the course of many generations. Computing power at that time however presented significant limitations for fast, large-scale modelling.
Fast forward 60 years, and, today, the fastest supercomputer is processing at least one quintillion operations per second (a quintillion is a million trillion). All this time, the science around understanding logic and problem solving has continued to advance, and storage capacity has grown and become much lower cost. This has enabled AI to leave the realm of fantasy and enter our everyday reality. Read On: