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IntroductionThe term AI cannot be explained in a few words or sentences. It is an amalgamation of logic, philosophy and computer technology. Even though man has been included under the category mammals, his status is an elevated one. This is primarily due to the fact that human beings are blessed with intelligence. It can be seen that only few animals like the ape have been endowed with a small percentage of intelligence. A human being on the other hand has a personality, habits, traits, memory etc, which could be horned to a higher degree. This is where humans differ from other creatures. For example, we may be able to recognize a person even after twenty years. This is because an image of the person, his mannerisms, voice etc may have been recorded in our brain and lay dormant for years. The memory can be triggered which produces brain waves to bring forth the image or thoughts that may have been stored for over a long period of time. This is an extremely complex process which happens in the brain. All the events that follow have not been completely understood. This explains why advances in the area of artificial intelligence are yet to produce a machine which can simulate the human brain.It may be an easy task for a three year old to move among toys strewn across a room without touching it. A robot may not be able to do this with the same ease and effectiveness. A human being has sense organs, which recognize sights, sounds, smells etc that are transmitted through neurons to the brain at the speed of light. This is the reason why we react to sensations. The muscles of the leg may be activated which result in more blood being pumped so that the person can escape from a dangerous situation such a fire or from the scene of a bomb blast. These actions take place due to stimulus sent from the brain which activates the leg muscles. Simulation of such an action requires a lot of sophisticated hardware and software. This is the area where robotics and artificial intelligence play their role. We can recognize a person by sight, sound etc. This is done by images sent by the optic and olfactory nerves to the brain. A robot on the other hand uses a pair of cameras in place of the eyes and software coupled with moving parts like an artificial limb.Areas of application1. Chess playingChess is a game which has been using artificial intelligence to produce better systems in game playing. Computer is basically an electronic device which accepts instructions from the user and works on data to produce outputs. In traditional computing databases are used to store chunks of data which ultimately give useful information. In AI, knowledge bases are used, which can store information through inferences and dialogues with the user and also update themselves. Chess is a game where moves and positions are of great importance. When a human chess player is in action, he will make the moves based on previous knowledge acquired or by intuition. Where as in computer simulated games, thousands of moves are calculated by the computer using brute force method where the most appropriate move is chosen. When a human plays chess, it is based on expertise and skills, where as in computer simulated chess environment, the computer plays based on calculations. For instance the most famous of man versus computer chess matches were played between Deep Blue, developed by IBM in 1997 and grandmaster Garry Kasparov. The computer won the series 2-1, with three matches being drawn. This spawned a great deal of interest in this area and other machines followed. Deep Blue, with its capability of evaluating 200 million positions per second, was the strongest computer that ever faced a world chess champion. Today, in computer chess research and matches of world class players against computers, the focus of play has often shifted to software controlled chess programs, rather than using dedicated chess hardware. Modern chess programs such as Rybka, Deep Fritz or Deep Junior are more efficient than the programs during Deep Blue's era.2. Speech Recognition In the 1990s, computer speech recognition reached a practical level for limited purposes. United Airlines has replaced its keyboard tree for flight information by a system using speech recognition of flight numbers and city names during this time which proved very convenient. Speech Recognition is an area where intense research is going on. During earlier days of computing, speech recognition was considered a stiff challenge. Now with advent of new hardware and software this process has been simplified. Even the commonly used MS-OFFICE suite has built-in features that support speech recognition. The software which converts speech to text essentially relies on the repository which stores commonly used words and its pronunciation. This process is intricate in the sense that the accent may vary from person to person. Hence before the software can be used, it must be trained with the user's way of talking. Once this is done, the user can talk on a microphone connected to the computer which translates his words into text. In fact this software can function as an assistant when the user wants to dictate some text. Dragon software has emerged as a complete solution in this area. Dragon 'Naturally Speaking' software from 'Nuance' is used by millions of people.It can be used in office, at home, at school, on road, or even in the operating room. It allows the user to get more done faster by voice. With Dragon, people can write documents and emails, search the Web, and even control their PC entirely by voice, saving time and boosting productivity. In their latest review, the editors of PC Magazine noted: "Dragon retains its lead in the speech recognition field, with surprising accuracy in dictation, even with little or no training."3. Understanding Natural LanguageNatural language understanding is an area where lot of ambiguity still exists. This involves recognising the whole text and interpreting its meaning The computer has to be provided with an understanding of the domain the text is about, and this is presently possible only for very limited domains. Natural language processing (NLP) is an area of computational linguistics concerned with the processing of naturally occurring (human) language by computer. Natural-language-generation systems convert information from computer databases into normal-sounding human language. Natural-language- understanding systems convert samples of human language into more formal representations that are easier for computer programs to manipulate. Natural language processing by computers is still in its infancy and a lot of work remains to be done.4. Computer VisionThe world is composed of three-dimensional objects, but the inputs to the human eye and computers' TV cameras are two dimensional. Some useful programs can work solely in two dimensions. A full computer vision requires partial three-dimensional information that is not just a set of two-dimensional views. At present there are only limited ways of representing three-dimensional information directly, and they are not as good as what human eye employs. In case of robots, cameras convert images into digital format, which are then processed.5. Expert SystemsOne of the largest areas of applications of artificial intelligence is in expert systems, or knowledge based systems as they are often known. This area has been fairly well developed and has proved useful for real time applications. This type of system seeks to exploit the specialised skills or information held by of a group of people on specific areas. It can be thought of as a computerised consulting service. It can also be called an information guidance system. Such systems are used for medical diagnosis or as educational aids. The skills and knowledge of an expert is simulated in a computerised environment to provide the effective solutions to a problem. The areas where expert systems are used range from disaster warning systems to medical diagnostics. The earliest expert system was MYCIN which was used for treating blood related diseases as early as 1974. When creating an expert system, a 'knowledge engineer' interviews experts in a certain domain and tries to embody their knowledge in a computer program for carrying out some tasks.6. Heuristics classificationThis is an area where information and knowledge from various sources are classified and focused to provide results in a particular area. For example in the modern world economic crisis is rampant. One of the major reasons why several banks in U.S have collapsed is due to excessive credit payments. Expert systems have been used in a limited way to arrive at a consensus whether a particular person may be issued a credit card or not. His traits and habits are to be studied and recorded so that it may be concluded whether he is capable of repayment. Expert systems using such heuristics in banking areas could have provided a solution to this global crisis. Other areas include decision support systems, public information systems etc.ConclusionOn the whole it can be concluded that Artificial Intelligence applications will play a decisive role in providing real time solutions to various problems humans face. A humane touch along with a technological interface will play a major role in shaping the future.
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