think organisation
Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere.

First invented in 1950s, it is only recently that Artificial intelligence has become so prolific across society as a whole. Ten years ago AI was still a dream for the majority of us. (Deutsch, 2012).

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Let’s look at some dictionary definitions.

Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. It is the ability to reason or make judgements. The word artificial refers to something which is produced by humans, meaning it does not occur naturally. It is machines which are capable of artificial intelligence. Machines are an apparatus which use mechanical power, and consist of several parts, which function together to perform a task.

Artificial intelligence is a machine which has the ability to learn, understand and make judgements or have opinions based on reason. The machine is capable of building something new, as opposed to just reprocessing information which has been entered.

Artificially intelligent machines were first invented in the 1950s (Harvard, 2017). These machines were significantly slower (and larger!) as well as being less powerful compared to today’s computers. At the time, AI pioneers like Alan Turing and Marvin Minsky laid the groundwork for the AI we enjoy today. At the time, AI machines could perform relatively simple tasks such as logical reasoning, solving mathematical problems, and playing simple games like tic-tac-toe.

At this point, the main focus was on developing algorithms and exploring the theoretical foundations of artificial intelligence rather than more practical applications. For example, it wasn’t until forty years later, in 1997 that AI really cracked playing chess. IBM’s Deep Blue machine made headlines by defeating world champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game chess match. This marked a significant milestone in AI’s ability.

What has Artificial Intelligence got to do with Psychology?

Understanding human intelligence has alluded humans for years. Psych (meaning soul) ology (meaning study of) is a multi-faceted discipline covering many areas of science. Today, humans (including Psychologists) still debate what intelligence is and how to measure it.

Psychologists have proposed various definitions and theories of intelligence over the years, reflecting different perspectives on what intelligence encompasses. Some psychologists view intelligence as a single, general cognitive ability (GCA), while others argue for a broader, more multifaceted understanding.

Theories of Intelligence

Leading experts have proposed various theories of intelligence, each offering distinct perspectives on the nature and measurement of cognitive abilities:

These theories all represent different perspectives on intelligence, highlighting the complexity of the concept and the diverse ways in which it can be conceptualised and measured.

The human brain is an intricate organ

It serves as the control centre for the body’s functions and behaviours. It consists of billions of nerve cells called neurons, which communicate with each other through electrical and chemical signals. The brain is divided into different regions, each responsible for specific functions such as movement, sensation, language, memory, and emotions.

Sensory processing centre

Information processing in the brain occurs through complex neural networks. When we perceive sensory information from the environment, such as seeing, hearing, or feeling, neurons in the sensory areas of the brain process this information and transmit it to other regions for further interpretation and action.

Memory formation involves the encoding, storage, and retrieval of information. Different types of memory, including short-term memory and long-term memory, are supported by various brain structures and neural pathways. Emotions are regulated by regions such as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, which play crucial roles in processing and responding to emotional stimuli.

Consciousness, awareness, and higher cognitive functions like decision-making, problem-solving, and creativity involve interactions between different brain regions, particularly the cerebral cortex—the outer layer of the brain responsible for higher-level processing.

Overall, the human brain functions through the coordinated activity of neurons and neural circuits, enabling us to perceive, think, feel, and act in response to our environment and internal states.

We must consider this when discussing artificial intelligence, can a machine do all of this? And how can it do all of this?

Why does this matter?

The human brain has over 86 billion neurons, which we couldn’t see until the 1970s when magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was first developed. So how do we know what AI is doing? How can we see inside the minds of the machines?

Today AI has learned to do a wide range of tasks across various domains, including:

  1. Playing Games: AI can play complex games like chess, Go, and video games at a level surpassing human experts.
  2. Natural Language Processing (NLP): AI can understand, generate, and translate human languages, enabling applications like chatbots, language translation services, and sentiment analysis.
  3. Image Recognition: AI can accurately identify objects, people, and scenes in images, powering applications like facial recognition, image search, and autonomous vehicles.
  4. Medical Diagnosis: AI algorithms can analyse medical data to assist in diagnosing diseases, detecting abnormalities in medical images, and predicting patient outcomes.
  5. Autonomous Vehicles: AI enables self-driving cars to perceive their environment, make decisions, and navigate safely on roads.
  6. Recommendation Systems: AI algorithms can analyse user preferences and behaviour to recommend products, movies, music, and other personalised content.
  7. Financial Trading: AI is used in algorithmic trading to analyse market data, identify patterns, and execute trades at high speeds.
  8. Drug Discovery: AI accelerates the process of drug discovery by predicting molecular interactions, designing new compounds, and identifying potential drug candidates.
  9. Robotics: AI enables robots to perform tasks such as assembly, navigation, and object manipulation in diverse environments.
  10. Personal Assistants: AI-powered virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant can understand spoken commands, answer questions, and perform tasks like setting reminders and sending messages.

These are just a few examples and are not exhaustive due to the speed at which AI is developing.

Why should I care?

For the majority of the population, it probably wasn’t until the end of 2022, when ChatGPT was launched, that we began to think and consider AI. This morning, a morning greeting from ChatGPT is shown below asking what it can help with.

You should care, because these questions are based on my search history. And the speed of change is ground-breaking. It took the telephone just over 75 years to reach 100 million users. The mobile phone took 16 years, with the world wide web halving this, reaching 100 million users in 7 years. ChatGPT took 2 months. Surpassing previous record breakers, TikTok which took 9 months and Uber which took 70 months. The speed at which AI is advancing is faster than anything humans have ever seen before.

So what next?

All humans need to understand AI.

Psychologists bring invaluable expertise to the field of AI, contributing insights crucial for the development of responsible and user-centric technologies. With their deep understanding of human behaviour, cognition, and emotions, psychologists play a pivotal role in shaping AI systems to align with human preferences, needs, and ethical considerations.

The ability to ensure big data used in AI is robust, reliable and valid is fundamental to the integrity of the algorithms. Psychologists have long focused on the need for machine innovation, whilst ensuring they are ethically sound, especially in terms of addressing concerns related to privacy, bias, fairness, and transparency.

As AI becomes increasingly integrated into daily life, psychologists contribute valuable insights into human-machine interaction, much like ergonomics and health and safety in the past. Understanding the human factor in AI and machine integration is fundamental to the success of organisations, and society as a whole, just as it was in transforming how humans interacted with airplanes (Harris, 2014).

If you would like to discuss how the Think Organisation can ensure your organisation and its people can harness the power of AI please contact us.

Think Performance. Think Excellence. Think Impact.

Check our Insights page for more valuable information.