Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans

Artificial intelligence and the future of humans is a book-length topic. How do machines learn? Is the power of machine learning all that powerful?

Artificial intelligence and the future of humans, including artificial intelligence applications & how machines learn is making me curious. Let’s tackle this topic.

I can’t remember the last time I called a company and a human answered the phone. And if you’re calling Comcast, eat  lunch first so you don’t get hangry! 
In fact, computers are calling me, and not to go to lunch. Heck, my friends don’t call me for lunch dates, either. They text!

Suspect looks guilty
You're only skipping chess because we'll beat you!

Phones bring me back to Siri, Alexa, and artificial intelligence. (AI)

And for the record, I am skipping the chess stuff.


To evaluate artificial intelligence and the future of humans, like computers, we need data to draw from. I promise this will be a brief history of artificial intelligence.

I’ll be speedy quick, like the power of machine learning.

Make Sense of Science _cowboy hat_Alex
I've got my eye on this word count


In the first half of the 20th century, science fiction reacquainted us with the concept of artificially intelligent robots. One could argue that Frank L Baum’s Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz is a kind of artificial intelligence.

Tin Man is a long way from Hal, the AI in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), where AI takes a darker turn. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by the great Phillip K. Dick inspired Blade Runner, another dystopian AI-themed work.

The 1980s brought Neuromancer, The Matrix, and The Terminator (watch the original if you haven’t), which shows mankind’s distrust of artificial intelligence.

Is this view of artificial intelligence and the future of humans deserved? Do we need to fear AI?

(links above for rotten tomatoes if you care to catch up on your sci-fi movie viewing and to amazon affiliate for reading the classic Neuromancer)

In the late 1940s, polymaths like John von Neumann & Alan Turing jumped us from science fiction into the computer age!
Turing wrote a seminal paper w/theories on whether or not machines think.
Turing's paper here
Alan Turing
John von Neumann was a brilliant mathematician
who delved into computer science b4 it was a science
More on von Neumann here
John von Neumann
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In 1956, Arthur Lee Samuel, a researcher at IBM played a game of checkers on television.
SEE? No chess!
His opponent: a 36-bit vacuum tube computer made by IBM.
Arthur Lee Samuel
Samuel had assigned each of the 64 squares on the checkerboard a different set of machine-word identifiers.
Then he programmed his IBM 701 computer to think: that is, to consider a few possible checkers moves "by evaluating the resulting board positions much as a human player might do."
Samuel = computer pioneer
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Enthusiasm abounded about the potential of this new field with high amounts of optimistic press coverage.

And no chess games!

Friends in crowd
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans is bright!


In 1956, during the Dartmouth Summer Project. (DSRPAI)

This conference was a bust, but convinced DARPA 'Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency', --the central research and development organization for the US Department of Defense --that it was time to fund AI research.
More on DARPA here


During the 1950s and 1960s computer scientists sketched out dreams & designs of advanced problem-solving machines that, in many cases, mirrored the robotic creations of science fiction novels.

If you’d like a few sci-fi book recommendations for your kids, hover your cursor on this sentence.

the poewr of machine learning
Imaginations gone wild!

All this enthusiasm dropped off as mathematicians and researchers struggled. 


Don't be so serious_Sue Berk Koch_Join us and Make Sense of Science
We want to know!

Because in the 1950s, computer processors could not store information, only spit it back out.

In other words, computers could be told what to do but couldn’t remember what they did

Weird to imagine!

Over the next half-century, many of the most ambitious fantasies of artificial intelligence were often met with prosaic, real-world limitations. 

Progress was made, but slow progress. These long fallow periods have been dubbed an A.I. winter.

Top 10 Winter skin care tips
A. I. Winter


Plus, computer science was expensive. In the early 1950s, the cost of leasing a computer ran up to $200,000 a month. 

I thought 2K for a laptop was expensive!

Can you imagine time traveling to 1956 & renting out your laptop for $200,000 for 30 days?

I bet that tough crowd above would be all in!

Rent this computer for 200K
1956: $200,000 to rent for 30 days
Favorite Animal _LOUIE
2022: $ 2000 to buy. (Louie not included)

In the 21 C, it may seem that AI is taking over, but innovations took time.

Look at the history of flight.

The Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903 but it wasn’t until the 1930s that aviation saw the beginnings of commercial transport.

And 100 years later, we’re planning to go to Mars! (to read my post on Mars, click here)

first airline passenger
For more on the history of aviation, click on the tix.

That was a brief history of artificial intelligence! Let’s stay in the 21st C, fast-forwarding from the 1950s & our brief history of artificial intelligence! 


Once that limit of computer storage –which was holding us back decades ago, was no longer a problem, we could start coding computers so they’d remember what to do.

The power of machine learning snowballed!

How do computers learn? When we humans give them data & parameters to look for. These instructions are called algorithms. 

Enter, computer learning
For the record a computer algorithm is 'a sequence of finite instructions that carry out a series of processes to respond to specific problems.'
IOW, an algorithm is a set of steps used to complete a specific task. Algorithms are the building blocks for programming, & they allow computers, smartphones, & websites to function.
More on algorithms here

Don’t worry! We are avoiding the nuts and bolts of the algorithm aspect of machine learning.

Let’s approach the question of how do computers learn, with a recent success story involving supervised learning.

I don't want to be supervised.


In 2020, MIT researchers encoded the data of over 2000 molecules into a computer
Facts about these molecules
such as atomic weights and the types of bonds needed to inhibit bacterial growth.
supervised learning approach
Once the computer or AI learned this data...
Researchers then instructed the AI to survey a library of over 61,000 FDA-approved drugs that would be effective as antibiotics
The drugs could NOT look like any existing antibiotic & they had to be nontoxic.
Imagine how long this would take a human researcher to do!
Of all 61,000, only one molecule fit the parameters!
The researchers named the AI discovery Halicin.
Halicin is effective against several bacterial strains, including multidrug-resistant bacteria!
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artificial intelligence applications_antibiotics

Halicin is an amazing win & an amazing artificial intelligence application!

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a major worldwide problem.

Researchers plan to broaden the AI supervised learning approach to find more new antibiotics & to design molecules from scratch.

If there is supervised computer learning, it follows that there is unsupervised computer learning.

Winter Skin Care Tips_Freckles_Ian
Unsupervised sounds much better to me!


With a plethora of data, programmers can employ unsupervised learning to extract potentially useful insights.
The algorithms in unsupervised learning can enable computers to discover hidden patterns or data groupings without the need for human intervention.
Discovering similarities & differences in information make it the ideal solution for...
...Exploratory data analysis, cross-selling strategies, customer segmentation, and image recognition.
Hm...we know there are still glitches to iron out w image recognition.
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From marketers to biologists to bankers to fraud specialists, unsupervised learning allows AI to find patterns or anomalies in the masses of data at our fingertips.

Great news Make sense of science copy
I love data!

Looking beyond the data, researchers seek to train AI not in a passive environment but to operate dynamically.

This type of AI learning is called reinforcement learning.


Louie wants to keep in touch_Subscribe
Reinforcement learning means I get a treat!

“Reinforcement learning is an iterative process where an algorithm seeks to maximize some value based on rewards received for being right.”

It’s a strange concept to grasp w AI.

Reinforcement learning link
Reinforcement learning w AI isn’t quite same as when I give Louie a treat for learning how to shake, but it is a game-like situation!
Let's look at a few artificial intelligence applications to explain!
Take the technology for self-driving cars.
Yes, there are still issues but we won't delve into them in this post.
An autonomous racecar is tasked to find the fastest lap around the track.
The AI works to find the optimal sequence of steering, brake, & gas that achieves the fastest lap time.
The algorithm learns to perform a task by trying to maximize rewards it receives for its actions
In the case of an AI, they receive points.
Soccer players like points too!
Reinforcement learning is best when one doesn’t have a lot of training data, cannot clearly define the ideal end state, or the only way to learn about the environment is to interact with it.
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Artificial intelligence applications encompass far more than self-driving cars
Such as...
Assistance with agriculture
to facilitate administration of pesticides, detection of diseases, and prediction of crop yields.
AI has detected breast cancer earlier than human radiologists by identifying subtle radiological indictors.
AI can detect retinopathy, one of the leading causes of blindness by using the power of machine learning to analyze retinal photos.
Curious about bionic eyes? click here.
The power of machine learning can now facilitate high-volume processes for loan approval. (or denial)
How would you like an AI to tell you that can’t have a loan?
AI has predicted hypoglycemia by analyzing medical histories.
And of course, streaming services use AI to give us suggestions about what to watch, based on our specific viewing history.
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Artificial intelligence and the future of humans is right now! 

The power of machine learning has potential to perform tasks from analyzing EKGs to reading video surveillance to detecting beach litter (for more on plastics & our oceans, click here! ) 

The power of machine learning_laptop and AI hand

Artifiical intelligence applications for space include combing through data for exoplanets.  (if you want to go to Mars, click here to see how!)

how do machines learn
courtesy NASA

Up to 70% of custom software development could eventually be passed on to AI.

In 2021, AI was utilized to predict missing words, fragments and sentences from cuneiform tablets that were up to 4500 years old!

Artificial intelligence applications_Cuneiform tablet
Cuneiform Tables courtesy the MET

Artificial intelligence and the future of humans is now! What do you think? Do we have to be afraid?

Which artificial intelligence applications do you find the most intriguing?

How Do Machines Learn_ Front row Kevin




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March 17, 2022 6:14 am

I’d be a sucker for reinforcement learning, too. (maybe not for treats, but dangle a pair of sandals in front of me and I’d be all in!) Great post, thank you!

March 17, 2022 6:19 am

I did wonder about AI after Stephen Hawking’s comments. I’m feeling far more grounded & informed, thanks to your post and how you deconstructed AI learning. Thank you!

Fadima Mooneira
March 17, 2022 6:21 am

Artificial intelligence is talking the world now. You should read Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s about robots.

Unwanted Life
March 17, 2022 6:45 am

I guess we don’t really need to worry about AI unless we grant it consciousness or the ability to develop it. But I guess such decisions will be made without my input, so no point worrying about it until the machines rise up

March 17, 2022 11:24 am

I’d love time saving applications like self-driving cars, vacuums, etc. Leaves time for the fun things.

Eri Tz
March 17, 2022 12:26 pm

Wow, I had studied AI as one of my main lessons back at university. It is impressive to see how much everything has evolved since then. However, I remain a romantic. Human created machines so eventually even if machines take over at some time we can and we will win. Thank you for this read Sue!

March 17, 2022 1:08 pm

I studied CS in college and did my thesis on AI, so this topic is near and dear to my heart!

March 17, 2022 8:27 pm

Interesting as always! My son and I were just talking about whether AI will get to the point it ‘thinks’ and we realized we were having a hard time defining ‘thinks’.

Baby Boomer Super Saver
March 17, 2022 10:29 pm

I love the way you presented this information, it’s very approachable! I was fascinated to learn that AI had been “utilized to predict missing words, fragments and sentences from cuneiform tablets that were up to 4500 years old!” That’s pretty amazing!
What about AI used in social media and search engines? Learning that social media companies use AI to try to capture as much of our attention as they can, and then sell it to advertisers is disturbing. When search engines show different results based on providing more of what people are already looking for in different areas of the county, it contributes to bias & prejudice.

March 18, 2022 9:57 am

Very interesting read! Sometimes I stop and wonder about what would life be with robots everywhere, but I’m assuming this will be our ”reality” very soon! & it makes me excited! Thanks for sharing. xx Penny /

Kelly Diane
March 18, 2022 11:10 am

I have always been so fascinated by AI and its endless possibilities. Great post.

Molly Transatlantic Notes
March 18, 2022 11:18 am

There are so many possibilities, pros and cons and concerns about A.I. etc and I’m pretty sure I don’t know enough about any of it so this was a really good exploration for me to get into — thanks for sharing!

March 18, 2022 1:13 pm

This was such an interesting read! I have to admit books and films about the potential future of AI always intrigue me – it’s weird but exciting to think about what the future may look like! Thanks for sharing.

March 18, 2022 2:36 pm

This is such an interesting post, so many things to think about. I remember watching minority report and thinking some of things in that would be years and years away but now personalised ads are here and they freak me out 😂😂😂 thanks for sharing

Reply to  Susan Berk Koch
March 19, 2022 3:26 am

I quite often shout stop listening to me at my phone 😂 it’s just a bit much

Jaya Avendel
March 18, 2022 3:16 pm

I confess I have some negative feelings towards the way the AI has begun to slip unnoticed into our every day lives. I was most disturbed by the development of AI programs that can write posts and stories that read as though written by the human hand. I do not like the idea that a program can write as well as humans because I still want writing to belong to the emotional aspect of humanity .. .
Thanks for sharing this interesting post!

March 18, 2022 5:52 pm

AI is so interesting! I do think it can be helpful for us and work with us to make our live easier or tasks quicker.

Corinne x

March 19, 2022 7:49 am

Love this topic about AI. It’s fascinating how machine is taking over the world. I read a book a while ago “Homo Deus by Yuval Harari”. A bit scary how AI might eventually take our jobs because it makes work easier. Regardless, I believe human intelligence is still needed.

March 19, 2022 5:30 pm

This is a really interesting post to consider. It would be great for AI to change bed sheets, I hate doing that job ha ha!

Lauren – bournemouthgirl

March 19, 2022 6:06 pm

Another great post. I remember doing punchcards to run a simple program on a computer in the 70s. Now I just asked Siri for anything I need. Pretty amazing. Mike

March 20, 2022 3:20 am

So many things to think about! This is such a interesting post, thank you so much for sharing. I find machine learning really fascinating, it just amazes me. Xo

Elle –

Mummy Conquering Anxiety
Mummy Conquering Anxiety
March 20, 2022 3:32 am

Such an interesting and informative post, as always. I love reading about the history of this subject.

I used to fear technology and how fast it is evolving. However, since starting the blog I am embracing it more. AI is definitely beneficial and something which improves our daily lives.

Raji (@journeyintofantasy)
March 20, 2022 9:17 am

This was such an interesting read! AI is such a fascinating topic, and as someone who works in the software field, I like to keep myself up to date on the latest happenings in the subject, so I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing!

Maria Khan
March 22, 2022 2:38 am

Such a interesting post!

March 24, 2022 10:07 am

Thank you for sharing all this info about AI. I didn’t know much about it until I read your post. Very informative and interesting!

Lux G.
Lux G.
March 30, 2022 10:49 pm

The pros and cons of technology. Makes me wonder what the future would be like when AI fully takes over.

Under Flowery Sky
April 1, 2022 6:34 am

Very interesting topic, beautiful pictures..

September 20, 2022 2:45 am

Nice sharing! I am grateful that AI has made my life easier! (except for the annoying ads on the website…)

Susan Berk Koch author

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