Sometimes without realizing it, people are exposed to artificial intelligence (AI), which is the ability of computers to mimic humanlike thought processes. Now more than ever before, computers employ various forms of AI in the home, in school, and at work. Some basic examples of AI might include the movie suggestions from your digital video recorder based on your previous programming choices, or your microwave knowing when your popcorn is ready, or video game software with realistic and lifelike oncoming traffic. All of these activities, and countless others, are possible because of sophisticated programs that mimic human responses.
Artificial intelligence is a field that is just half a century old, but it is growing rapidly. Corporations, laboratories, and universities around the world are trying to develop AI programming to simplify tasks or aid human development, rapidly changing the world in which we live and interact.
In July 2006, a New York Times reporter wrote, “The advances can be seen in the emergence of bold new projects intended to create more ambitious machines that can improve safety and security, entertain and inform, or just handle everyday tasks. At Stanford University, for instance, computer scientists are developing a robot that can use a hammer and screwdriver to assemble an Ikea bookcase (a project beyond the reach of many humans) as well as tidy up after a party, load a dishwasher, or take out the trash.”
As computers process information faster and the physical limitations of computers shrink, the ability to create new devices or operating systems increases. As a result, the careers that revolve around software development and computer programming are growing at a tremendous pace. Degree programs that are geared toward careers in computer technology are also increasing to keep up with this demand. Ultimately, this shift will prepare a new generation to enter commercial or research applications. Of these technology careers, AI may be among the most cutting-edge choices because new AI applications are constantly being developed.
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