Since the brain is a complex adaptive system and we can simulate a complex adaptive system in a computer, it is only logical that we try to use computers to undertake tasks in similar ways to the brain and create machines that can actually think for themselves.

Defining intelligence is not as straight forward as it seems. We might define it as being rational, but we humans are often irrational in how we behave.

In 1950 Alan Turing devised a test for whether an AI system is intelligent. He asks the question of whether a human person communicating with a machine could be fooled into thinking they were communicating with another person.

He also created the Turing Machine back in 1936, which was a hypothetical machine operating an extremely basic abstract symbol-manipulating devices. It  created a mental framework from which to think how artificial intelligence might be developed and in fact, the Turing machine was an influence in how the computers we now use are structured.

In 1997 Gary Kasparov, the world champion chess player was defeated by a computer built by IBM called “Big Blue” in 1997. 

Many software applications like Voice recognition have the ability to learn. The more you use the programme, the more accurately the program can recognise your voice and turn it into text.

Google also uses algorithms that can learn making it increasingly effective at finding the most relevant page from the keyword it is given. Each time it is used it is gathering information designed to make it more efficient at searching. In spite of how effective AI is, it is still very far from doing what any human can do.

Complex adaptive systems have the ability to learn. They are formed when autonomous agents interact with  their environment and other agents. It must take in information from the environment, assess it and choose an action which is appropriate and effective in its environment. Nature has used Darwinian evolution to select the most effective rule sets and algorithms to cop in our environment.

A moment’s thought will make it clear just how complex we are and how so many of the tasks we take for granted are actually exceedingly complex and replicating such functions is a far more difficult task than we might imagine.

A simple thing like looking at a scene and interpreting what is being seen is nowhere near as straight forward as it seems. How would a machine determine where the edges of each object are? How would it know which objects are joined to one another and which ones just happen to be lying next to each other or which is in front of which. How does it know that two objects are the same when one is turned to a different orientation, much closer or further away, tilted on angle, or in different levels of illumination? How different do two objects have to be before it is obvious that they are not just two different examples of the same thing. AI has become much better few decades, but we can usually tell straight away when we are interacting with a computer.  

Machines are being integrated into biological forms. For example, artificial arms can be given to a person who has lost an arm that they control directly from their brain. Biological components are being added to machines. We are directly altering genetic codes and on the brink of creating new non-DNA based life forms

Marvin Minsky, who has done an enormous amount of work in the area believes that in principle, machines will be able to do anything a human mind can do.

When we consider all these factors, we must also ponder what it means to be human. Are we just extremely complex machines we will one day create in a computer or are we uniquely different beings.

Science fiction stories abound of robots going out of control and taking over humans. the reality we are seeing is more of a blurring between the boundaries of what is human and what is machine.. There are enormous philosophical implications of the work being done in the field of artificial intelligence. the field is growing so fast that we struggle to come to terms with the implications of the new technologies becoming available to us.