Thomas Edison Would Love Artificial Intelligence

Mention artificial intelligence and folks automatically think robots … sometimes true but certainly not always. It is our desire to associate something physical with this highly mathematical science. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. It is also the name of the academic field which studies how to create computers and computer software that are capable of intelligent behavior.

Visualizing the AI Thing

Visualizing the AI Thing

It’s not all that new, harking back to the 1950s; modern versions of it being built within high level chess games, medical diagnostic programs and trouble-shooting fixes. Anyone who has read through automotive repair manuals negotiating a series of questions to funnel down to a likely problem is actually using a common form of AI known as an “expert system”

Neural networks mimic complex systems.Riding a bike is a neural network function-balance for a biped walking robot is another. Seeing trends in massive data streams is another application; as are classifying problems into similar basic categories/groups.

Some common application families under the AI umbrella

Some common application families under the AI umbrella

The main goals of artificial intelligence include reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, natural language processing (communication), perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. Just a quick smattering of the kinds of applications AI can be used for:

  • Pattern recognition/classification
  • Optimization problems
  • Image processing
  • Simulation
  • Autonomous control of aerial vehicles
  • Pilotless cars/vehicles
  • Missile navigation
  • Smart homes/smart utility systems
  • Robotic control and mobility
  • Advanced learning techniques
  • Stock market simulation/modeling

When Edison codified how to transform raw ideas into marketable products through what became R&D labs, his process, composed of discrete steps (sub-processes) was actually an expert system. In fact, this versatile expert system soon spread all over the world, changing forever the business community and its realization of what technology driven product development could do for a country’s standards of living … what we recognize today as “progress”. GE immortalized this in their 1950’s corporate tagline …”progress is our most important product.” Way to go, Tom!

Keep your eyes on AI and be patient. It will change the world and how we do many things.

Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.


1 thought on “Thomas Edison Would Love Artificial Intelligence

  1. Henry Morgan

    I think that final Edison quote sums it up perfectly. And while the close of the last century saw too many (primarily) medical researchers sit back and simply accept they would never come up with a cure for say cancer.

    Not so the youth of today, they have none of the baggage, mountains of data and technology on their side.

    I honestly expect great, great achievements over the next decade or so.

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