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A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence

AI, Machine learning, Hands of robot and human touching on big data network connection background, Science and artificial intelligence technology, innovation and futuristic.

The buzz phrase in the business world in recent years is artificial intelligence (AI), but the mere mention of AI is often met with a combination of excitement, skepticism and sometimes fear.

We wanted to take a moment to help demystify the concept of AI by better defining it and adding a little perspective with a short history of AI.

 “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29

What is AI?

At the highest level, AI is a field that combines computer science with vast datasets to enable computer-driven predictions or classifications. AI looks to create intelligent machines that can mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. 1

Decades of AI2

1950s

Claude Shannon, regarded as the “father of information theory,” published an article that discussed the development of a chess-playing computer program.

1960s

ELIZA was created in 1965 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This first chatbot could converse with a person, opening new possibilities for human-computer interaction.

1970s

WABOT-1 was built in Japan at Waseda University. The robot resembled a human with movable arms and legs and the ability to see and converse.

At the same time, Stanford University began work on MYCIN, which used AI to help diagnose blood disorders.

1980s

Mercedes-Benz unveiled a driverless van that could drive up to 55 mph while avoiding obstacles.

1990s

Modern AI started to take root in the 1990s. In 1994, Brian Pinkerton created WebCrawler, the first text-based internet search engine. For the first time, internet users could search for any word on a web page. Just a few years later. IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

2000s

AI accelerated and appeared in several products. For example, spam filters started using marching learning to filter unwanted emails. Cameras started to use face detection to improve the quality of photographs, and machine learning algorithms started to help financial institutions detect fraudulent transactions.

2010s

In 2011, Apple debuted Siri, the virtual voice assistant. Siri can help iPhone users send text messages, make calls, schedule reminders and search for information online. Siri also has the ability to learn about the user’s interests and preferences, and adapt how it operates over time.

In 2014, Amazon introduced Alexa, which listens and responds to the user’s voice commands. Alexa can perform many of Siri’s functions, as well as enable music playback, stream podcasts, give weather updates and control home automation devices.

Today’s AI

ChatGPT arrived in 2022, and its new approaches to AI have received a lot of attention. ChatGPT accesses vast amounts of information from the internet to generate human-like responses. Enterprising students found ChatGPT could be helpful with homework assignments while corporate America learned ChatGPT could help streamline certain tasks, like responses from a customer service department.

By starting to understand the history of AI, you can begin to see that AI has been a force in businesses and personal lives for some time. While some of the new developments can be a bit unnerving, AI has the potential to bring inspiring developments in the fields of healthcare, education, cybersecurity and more.

In financial services, AI may allow firms to automate certain back office and operational functions and allow professionals to run more in-depth financial analyses.

One aspect of AI is certain: The more AI can handle routine tasks, the more time we can spend providing financial guidance as you pursue your goals.

¹ IBM, 2023

² G2, 2023

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