What is artificial intelligence?

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Why is artificial intelligence so popular today?
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around since the birth of computers in the 1950s. The original pioneers dreamed of making ‘computer brains’ that could perform the same kinds of tasks as our own brains, such as playing chess or translating languages. But hopes that AI would quickly reach human-level intelligence didn’t come to fruition, and AI soon fell out of favour.

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Over the following decades, technology improved at an exponential rate. Computers got faster, the internet was invented, and researchers made new advances in AI algorithms.
In the last decade, AI has started solving many of the problems that we always dreamed it could. This has prompted billions of dollars of investment from companies, governments and financiers, and many major organisations now embrace AI as a core element of their business.

Early AI engineers attempted to make ‘computer brains’ © GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

Are there different kinds of AI?
Mention AI, and most people think of ‘deep learning’. This kind of AI is loosely inspired by the way our brains work. It uses lots of computers to simulate large networks of artificial ‘neurons’, which are then trained, typically using humongous amounts …

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