A timeline of artificial intelligence

It’s pretty fair to say that technology has come a long way in recent years, and continues to grow and amaze us every day. One of the most significant and anticipated developments includes the idea of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

It’s a notion that dates back to at least the 5th century BC, though computers that were able to perform difficult and intellectual tasks didn’t appear until after World War 2. There is a lot of divided opinion on whether it’s a good idea or if it could potentially be dangerous to the human race. But one thing’s for sure; it’s come a long way…

  • 5th Century BC – Greek myths of Hephaestus incorporate the idea of robots
  • 16th Century – Clockmakers make mechanical animals
  • 17th Century – Pascal created the first mechanical digital calculating machine in 1642
  • 18th Century – Inventors made mechanical toys
  • 1946 – The first general purpose computer was the ENIAC; the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, which was built for the American army by the University of Pennsylvania
  • 1955 – Allen Newell, J.C. Shaw and Herbert Simon run the first AI program; The Logic Theory; at the Carnegie Institute of Technology
  • 1962 – The first industrial robot company – Unimation – is founded
  •  1968 – ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’; the book by Arthur C. Clarke and the film produced by Stanley Kubrick launches. It features the sentient and deadly computer HAL 9000. You can read more about that on this fantastic AI infographic by Buddy Loans
  • 1974-early 1908s – The first winter of AI is a period which experiences reduced funding and a lowered interest in the field as hype turned to disappointment
  • 1988 – CMU’s Kai-Fu Lee develops the Sphinx Speech Recognition System; the first to recognise words spoken in real time by everyday people
  • 1997 – The Deep Blue chess program beats the then world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a widely anticipated and watched match
  • 2000 – Interactive robot ‘pets’ – known as ‘smart toys’ – become commercially available in various parts of the world; thud realising the vision of the 18th century toy makers
  • 2002 – CMU’s Reid G. Simmons creates GRACE; a talking robot complete with social skills
  • 2005 – Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts an even he calls the Singularity; the idea of artificial intelligence succeeding that of a human brain; and predicts it will be a reality around 2045
  • 2011 – IBM’s Watson wins ‘Jeopardy!’; beating former champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings
  • 2011 – Apple introduces intelligent personal assistant Siri on the iPhone 4S
  • 2014 – Chatbot Eugene Goostman is said to have passed the Turing test in the University of Reading competition; causing a large amount of controversy
  • 2014 – Researchers call for a new Turing test to be created, which is to be decided at the 2015 workshop

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