Chris Riesbeck is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Northwestern University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1974. His dissertation was on natural language understanding. He has done research on case-based reasoning, memory-based language understanding, and authorable intelligent systems for education. He is a co-director of The Center for Computer Science and Learning Sciences, the director of the MS program in Computer Science, and a Fellow of the American Association for Artifical Intelligence.
What is AI?
Anyone who works in Artificial Intelligence should be able to define what that means. If you Google "define:artificial intelligence" or visit AAAI's site, and you'll see lots of definitions, mostly oriented around the notion of computers doing things that require intelligence.
These definitions are clearly inadequate, for at least three reasons:
- There are tasks that we think require intelligence when humans do them, that are not AI, e.g., calculating complex sums.
- Conversely, there are tasks we don't think require intelligence when humans do them, that are AI tasks, e.g., computer vision.
- And, of course, there are tasks that were called AI until we figured out how to get a computer to do them, e.g., optical character recognition.
So here's the true definition of AI, the one that gets at the heart of what we do and why:
Artificial Intelligence is the search for the answer to the fundamental question: Why are computers so stupid?
It's left as an exercise for the intelligent reader as to why this definition addresses the three weaknesses listed above.