Theoretical Foundation of AI
Key insights that many programmers lack
The goal of this module is to equip you with the insights needed to get a proper grip on AI technology.
For instance, we will look at number of fascinating examples which vividly highlight the fundamental limitations of mathematics and logic and, therefore, computer programming.
We will also clearly explain the major conceptual differences between software, code and a program – which is a question that most computer science professionals struggle with.
The reason why we need to understand these seemingly academic differences will become very clear when we see that there is a direct relationship between human intelligence, software and artificial intelligence – but more of that later.
In this Module we will also take a close look at how computer programs are executed inside a microprocessor in order to understand just how crude even the world’s most advanced computers really are.
Another topic will be to review the differences between how a transistor works and how a neuron works, which are the lowest-level functional blocks in AI systems and biological brains respectively.
We will also touch on the emerging field of quantum biology and probe the mysterious role of so-called ‘junk DNA’ which comprises 98% of the human genome, but which was until recently was thought to serve no purpose. But we now know junk DNA in fact serves a vital function – only we have no clue what that function is.
The reason why we’ll be straying beyond the realm of computer science will become clear when we get into the detail, but I’ll just say for now that we are far less sure about how a neuron works than we are about how a transistor works.
You might be wondering what this has to do with AI? The significance is that a quest to replicate human-type intelligence using a computer-type structure might prove to be futile – but, even so, that would not mean that the resulting artificially-intelligent computer would not be vastly powerful.
You will be pleased to know that we will be able to cover all this ground without referring to a single equation or writing a single line of code.
We have to cover these points because a good understanding of the principles upon which AI is based will be vital as we explore topics that lie at the edge of what we know, which we’ll often do throughout this programme.
Properly grasping the basics can be quite liberating…
For example, when you realise that any computer programme, no matter how complex, can be executed using just three very simple logical operations we can see how limited even the most advanced AI systems really are, but in spite of this we can still marvel at their power.
The principle of intellectual abstraction – a fundamental concept in programming – shows that even very simple structures can lead to quite extraordinary behaviour when they are connected together in a certain way.
In this module we will cut through the apparent complexity of modern software and computing and get down to the basics so you can understand what is really going on.