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What is AI? Sydney’s Simple Guide to Artificial Intelligence

What is AI?

Sydney's seminar

With it constantly in the news, many people ask us: What is AI? Though that answer can be complicated, I’m going to simplify it a little in this blog so that everyone can understand.

When you think of AI, or Artificial Intelligence, most likely you’re thinking of all of the famous movies where human-like robots turn into the bad guy. Ex Machina, iRobot, and 2001: A Space Odyssey showcase AI that eventually learns to hate humans and tries to exterminate them. While this is very much science fiction, AI is real and involved in our everyday lives.

But what is actual AI?

Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a computer to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. In computer science, we often refer to AI as being able to think and, ideally, learn. While this may sound like an easy task, true AI is a very difficult task to accomplish, given the nature of computers.

What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI? Image of Caleb with a robot cat.


The reason true AI is difficult to accomplish lies in the way computers actually “think.” In its simplest form, a computer requires a response rule that determines how it reacts to each specific type of input. For example, as I’m writing this blog, clicking the ‘Space bar’ tells my computer to respond by putting a space between words.

What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI? abstract symbol of computer intelligence.

This gets difficult when variations in the input potentially change the response, but because it falls outside the response rule, the computer doesn’t understand those nuances. A common example is that you tell a computer to recognize a picture of a cat as being a cat. The response rule tells the computer that it’s a cat if it has fur, pointy ears, and a tail. Your computer becomes confused, though, when it sees a fox, which shares the same characteristics as a cat, or when the computer sees a hairless or bob-tailed cat. In this instance, we must teach the computer to learn in the face of contradictions.


In machine learning, rather than a basic input-output system, there is a three-step algorithm. In the first step, the machine classifies or predicts the input information and then produces an estimate about the pattern in the data. The second step provides an error function that evaluates the initial prediction. Taking the information gathered in the first two steps, the third step has an algorithm that adjusts the weight of the data to refine the accuracy of the program.


Artificial Intelligence is slowly becoming a part of everyday life. Some popular examples of Modern AI are Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. Referred to as virtual assistants, these programs use voice recognition to perform tasks on personal technology. These programs translate your voice into code by utilizing keywords and tracking your general habits and language choices. Once translated into code, these programs can perform several tasks to help you use the functions of your device.

Most of the time, these AI work well, but to understand you, you must speak clearly using terms that the programs can understand. This can make it difficult for those with thick accents or speech impediments to utilize Siri or Alexa.

What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI? image of a home AI digital assistant.
What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI (Artificial Intelligence) | Sydney's Seminar | What is AI? abstract image of computer intelligence.


As programmers continue to evolve artificial intelligence programs, we can expect our lives to become more tangled with services offered by AI. While AI won’t be making human workers obsolete any time soon, experts predict that it will have a strong impact on the medical, automotive, cybersecurity, and e-commerce sectors. Soon, we will start to see AI more present in the modern world, although there is nothing to fear, despite what sci-fi flicks will have you believe. Embracing artificial intelligence will begin to create a more efficient and advanced society.

We here at Clark Computer Services have been watching the emergence of AI ways to securely incorporate it into the small business world, so if you have questions, we have answers. Reach out to us at [email protected] or by phone at 301-456-6931, and our friendly staff can answer all your questions.

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