The term “Artificial Intelligence was first coined by John McCarthy in 1956. He is one of the “founding fathers” of artificial intelligence, together with Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon
Artificial Intelligence today is bathed in controversiality and hype mainly due to a misconception that is created by media. AI means different things to different people. Some called it “cognitive computing”, others “machine intelligence”. It seems to be difficult to give a definition of what AI really is.
Wikipedia: “Artificial intelligence (AI, also machine intelligence, MI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of “intelligent agents“: any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.
English Oxford Living Dictionary: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
Webster: ” A branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers. The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.”
Google: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and translation between languages.”
Quartz: “Artificial intelligence is software or a computer program with a mechanism to learn. It then uses that knowledge to make a decision in a new situation, as humans do. The researchers building this software try to write code that can read images, text, video, or audio, and learn something from it. Once a machine has learned, that knowledge can be put to use elsewhere.”
Rainbird: “A computer doing a task that was previously thought would require a human.”
In my own words, keeping it simple: “AI is using computers to do things that normally would have required human intelligence.”
In other words, we might say that AI is the ability of computers/machines to use human knowledge modelled into algorithms and relational data, to learn from human reasoning and the associated conclusions/decisions, and use what has been learned to make decisions like a human would.
Thus can specialist (expensive) human knowledge be stored and processed, to make the decision making ability/application available to other non-specialist people (who do not have that specialised knowledge), empowering them to, through the use of the AI system, make a specialised decision.
Unlike humans, where specialists are numbered and constrained by human limitations, can AI-powered machines scale, don’t need to rest and they can process massively large volumes of information, can conduct tasks and make reasoning decisions at a significantly higher frequency and lower error ratio than humans, all at once!