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The history of Artificial Intelligence (AI) began in antiquity, with myths, stories and rumors of
artificial beings endowed with intelligence or consciousness by master craftsmen; as SOMEONE
writes, AI began with "an ancient wish to forge the gods."[1]
Early Days
During the Second World War, noted British computer scientist Alan Turing worked to crack the
‘Enigma’ code which was used by German forces to send messages securely. Alan Turing and his
team created the Bombe machine that was used to decipher Enigma’s messages.
The Enigma and Bombe Machines laid the foundations for Machine Learning. According to Turing, a
machine that could converse with humans without the humans knowing that it is a machine would
win the “imitation game” and could be said to be “intelligent”.
The golden years 1956–1974
The years after the Dartmouth conference were an era of discovery, of sprinting across new ground.
The programs that were developed during this time were, to most people, simply "astonishing":[44]
computers were solving algebra word problems, proving theorems in geometry and learning to speak
English. Few at the time would have believed that such "intelligent" behavior by machines was
possible at all.[45] Researchers expressed an intense optimism in private and in print, predicting that
a fully intelligent machine would be built in less than 20 years.[46] Government agencies like DARPA
poured money into the new field.[47]
Getting Serious About AI Research
In 1951, an machine known as Ferranti Mark 1 successfully used an algorithm to master checkers.
Subsequently, Newell and Simon developed General Problem Solver algorithm to solve mathematical
problems. Also in the 50s John McCarthy, often known as the father of AI, developed the LISP
programming language which became important in machine learning.
In the 1960s, researchers emphasized developing algorithms to solve mathematical problems and
geometrical theorems. In the late 1960s, computer scientists worked on Machine Vision Learning and
developing machine learning in robots. WABOT-1, the first ‘intelligent’ humanoid robot, was built in
Japan in 1972.
AI Winters
However, despite this well-funded global effort over several decades, computer scientists found it
incredibly difficult to create intelligence in machines. To be successful, AI applications (such as vision
learning) required the processing of enormous amount of data. Computers were not well-developed
enough to process such a large magnitude of data. Governments and corporations were losing faith
in AI.
Therefore, from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s, computer scientists dealt with an acute shortage of
funding for AI research. These years became known as the ‘AI Winters’.
New Millennium, New Opportunities
In the late 1990s, American corporations once again became interested in AI. The Japanese
government unveiled plans to develop a fifth generation computer to advance of machine learning.
AI enthusiasts believed that soon computers would be able to carry on conversations, translate
languages, interpret pictures, and reason like people.In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated became the
first computer to beat a reigning world chess champion, Garry Kasparov.
Some AI funding dried up when the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s. Yet machine learning
continued its march, largely thanks to improvements in computer hardware. Corporations and
governments successfully used machine learning methods in narrow domains.
Exponential gains in computer processing power and storage ability allowed companies to store vast,
and crunch, vast quantities of data for the first time. In the past 15 years, Amazon, Google, Baidu,
and others leveraged machine learning to their huge commercial advantage. Other than processing
user data to understand consumer behavior, these companies have continued to work on computer
vision, natural language processing, and a whole host of other AI applications. Machine learning is
now embedded in many of the online services we use. As a result, today, the technology sector
drives the American stock market.