Computer Science Department, Stanford University
Revised: 12 November 2007
This article for the layman answers basic questions about artificial intelligence. The opinions expressed here are not all consensus opinion among researchers in AI.
1. Basic Questions
Q. What is artificial intelligence?
A. It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.
Q. Yes, but what is intelligence?
A. Intelligence is the computational part of the ability to achieve goals in the world. Varying kinds and degrees of intelligence occur in people, many animals and some machines.
Q. Isn’t there a solid definition of intelligence that doesn’t depend on relating it to human intelligence?
A. Not yet. The problem is that we cannot yet characterize in general what kinds of computational procedures we want to call intelligent. We understand some of the mechanisms of intelligence and not others.