A look at advances in artificial intelligence.
The concept of artificial intelligence is profoundly related to the study of cognitive psychology. Cognition can be seen as the study of how knowledge is acquired and processed. For a man-made creation to be intelligent, this entity would need to be capable of cognition. Research into artificial intelligence and into cognitive psychology aid each other in improving the understanding how the mind functions. If one could create an artificial intelligence, this artificial intelligence could aid cognitive researchers in better understanding how cognitive functions occur. Cognitive research aids the developers of artificial intelligence in creating machines that learn tasks and improve performance through cognitive concepts.
In the study of artificial intelligence, numerous psychological terms have been used to describe the processes or lack of processes that occur in the man-made devices that have been created to mimic intelligent behavior. The processes typically are examined in terms of their information processing abilities. In the film Transcendent Man (Ptolemy & Ptolemy 2008), many of the individuals examine and explain devices capable of processing information and simulating learning from a behaviorist perspective. The artificial intelligence is simply processing inputs (stimuli) and organizing the information into functional outputs (responses) based on pre-designated instructions.
In regards to specific topics in cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence clearly relates with the study of cognitive neuroscience. As cognitive neuroscience is concerned with biological reactions that occur in relation to the brain and other elements of the nervous system, the study of artificial intelligence is concerned with designing a similar system to the human nervous system. The artificial intelligence would be capable of developing improved patterns of logic independent of outside manipulation. Computer chips have been serving to function as the neurons of these devices that simulate intelligent though. The methods of information storage by neurons clearly can be seen as related to the designs of the computer chips that have been advancing the developments in artificial intelligence technology.
Developments in artificial intelligence could lead to technological advances in various fields that would improve the quality of life for humanity. The medical uses of intelligent nano-devices could produce mechanical versions of antibiotics that could neutralize pathogens in the body. To do this, the nano-devices would need to be able to make distinctions concerning very minor differences in organisms. Similarly, nanotechnology could be used to develop devices that repair damaged tissue. For such devices to be effective, a sense of intelligence would need to exist allowing the devices to learn what functions living organism perform and changes that the body would undergo through time. If the devices could determine learn what changes occur, it would then advance its knowledge by gathering new information through observations. Research into artificial intelligence would also allow for an improved understanding of the causes of learning impairments, disabilities, and various mental disorders. By creating working models of how intelligent thought is processed, researchers would be able to narrow down the causes of such impairments. By understanding the causes more clearly, this would allow improved treatments of various disorders and impairments. By knowing how information is processed, one would also be able to improve on the current methods of learning and teaching new information. If one better understands how information is learned and stored, adjustments could be made to the current models of teaching in the education system to increase efficacy in the education system.
Despite the numerous improvements that could be brought about by advances in artificial intelligence, popular culture has taken a pessimistic view of artificial intelligence. This view began as early as 1818 with the classic novel Frankenstein (Shelley, 1994). Frankenstein created the concern about humans creating other intelligent life. The novel addressed the fear that intelligent beings created by humans would lack the ability to make moral judgments and that the creations would act solely in self-interest. The flaw in the design of an artificial intelligence would be that the being would function as an anti-social entity that would not be capable of determining the difference between right and wrong but only performing actions based on the calculations of whether the results would improve its own well-being. Popular culture has since advanced the basic ideas of Shelley’s novel in more recent representations to images of humanity’s possible destruction being brought about by intelligent machines like in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). In nearly two centuries, popular culture has created a high degree of concern over the consequence of creating intelligent machines that would be more intelligent than humans. The fear is that humanity would become servants to its own creation.
Current research into artificial intelligence shows some positive uses of artificial intelligence. Cleophas and Cleophas (2010) examined a back propagation artificial neural network that utilized methods of learning from examples as opposed to acting upon preset parameters to follow. The program made predictions concerning medical diagnoses utilizing SPSS. The neural network was able to correct itself based on trial and error to improve its results over time. The program did this through a series of algorithms and complex mathematical equations to adjust its predictions based on the correctness or incorrectness of prior predictions. This allowed for the neural network to effectively learn in a sense. Computer programs are ran by a code of that it follows much like how living cells run based off of DNA code. As the program corrected its own code, it evolved to an improved state of performance over a period of time through trial and error. The application of the neural network’s learning through negative and positive feedback resulted in improved predictions and diagnoses. By utilizing artificial intelligence in this way to refine medical diagnoses, errors could be more easily avoided in medical practice improving medical treatment for patients experience a wide array of ailments.
In comparing the movie Transcendent Man, popular culture, and the current research, one can notice clear differences among the three views of artificial intelligence. Ray Kurzweil holds a highly optimistic view of artificial intelligence applications that are far more radically advanced than current research and technology can support. Some of the artificial intelligence applications he describes for the near future could clearly be supported by current research. In stark contrast, popular culture has a vastly pessimistic view of artificial intelligence as being a danger to individuals and humanity as a whole. Popular culture shows artificial intelligence as being the undoing of humanity and a danger to society as seen in numerous movies and books. Current research is not as advanced currently as either would suggest. Artificial intelligence still abides by the rules of programming codes and has yet to come to the state of self-realization that would be needed in order for an artificial intelligence to decisions based on self-interest. The current research does demonstrate that artificial intelligence can be used to better the quality of life for mankind.
In light of advances in artificial intelligence, neural plasticity would be a topic that could be examined more clearly. As the machine learns new information, adjustments would need to be made to the routing of information across the underlying circuitry that processes information. Examining the changes made to circuitry upon learning in a model that would be similar to the human brain would allow for improved understanding of how the brain is re-wired upon learning. The mathematical patterns could be adapted for the more complex patterns of the human mind after a great deal of research. This would, however provide a base of understanding in how the mind adjusts to accommodate new learning.