Hollywood has done a fantastic job of convincing us of the possibility of entire legions of robots smart enough to take over the world. In films and television, the concept of artificial intelligence is just a given. And why not? It makes for great stories. As to whether or not artificial intelligence will ever fully take over, the debate rages on.

At the core of the debate is the understanding that artificial intelligence isn't a single technology. Creating a machine that is truly artificially intelligent requires the combination of multiple technologies all working together. Some of those technologies haven't even been invented yet. So while anything is possible, it is not likely that artificial intelligence will take over the world anytime soon.

Artificial Neural Networks

The main challenge of artificial intelligence is creating a machine that is capable of both knowing what it does not know and figuring out how to gain the knowledge lacked. Human brains do such things naturally. Machines do not have brains. As such, they cannot act on their own. They require humans to tell them what to do through programming. This is the big stumbling block of artificial intelligence.

Artificial neural networks might be the key to overcoming that limit. An artificial neural network is a set of algorithms programmed to recognize patterns and relationships. Like neural networks in the human brain, the various components of an artificial neural network can communicate back and forth. This allows the network to simulate learning by constantly comparing data points.

For example, a neural network can learn to recognize photographs of dogs. You start by feeding the network an image of a dog for the purposes of allowing it to collect data points. Those data points can then be compared against others collected from subsequent photos. When certain data points match, the network correctly identifies the subject of a given photo as a dog. Meanwhile, the network stores newly collected data points and uses them in future comparisons.

A Long Way to Go

Artificial neural networks could prove to be the most important component in creating genuine artificial intelligence. But science still has a long way to go in developing things like natural language processing, machine perception, machine learning, and general and social intelligence. It may be that artificial intelligence will someday take over the world. If it does, it won't do so for a very long time.