Many people are talking about artificial intelligence (AI). The idea that someday an AI-powered reality will rescue mankind from its current woes is an appealing concept. And we are constantly captivated and amused by the developments in this field.

To add to the intrigue, some of the assertions made about AI’s future prospects are big indeed. Some are predicting that by 2060, AI could completely supersede humans. From writing books to driving cars, from working in retail to performing complex surgery, machines will be performing many, if not all, of the tasks humans currently perform. (If you want to check a list of what AI can already do, click here).

It’s exciting stuff; possibly even a little daunting. Nonetheless, it’s food for thought. In fact, one can’t help but think about where it all began…

A Brief History of AI

AI is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as “the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.”

The term ‘artificial intelligence’, according to an article by Live Science, was coined at a conference at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire in 1956. However, despite initial enthusiasm, government funding and interest in the field dropped off around the mid 70’s, with the period of 1974 to 1980 being known as the “AI Winter”. However, the 80’s welcomed an AI revival, as competition on the AI front between the British and the Japanese heated up. There were numerous ebbs and flows in the 90’s, until AI shot to fame when IBM’s ‘Deep Blue’ famously defeated chess champion Gary Kasparov. Since then, AI has been going from strength to strength, and public interest in AI has been at an all-time high.

Computing at the Heart of AI, Coding at the Heart of Computing

The article by Encyclopedia Britannica, cited earlier, explains, “since the development of the digital computer in the 1940s, it has been demonstrated that computers can be programmed to carry out very complex tasks.” [Italics added]. Indeed, programming, or coding, is at the heart of computing. Computing, in turn, is at the heart of AI.

As AI continues to advance, code is becoming an incredibly powerful tool. Perhaps more powerful than many had anticipated. An article by Edward C. Monaghan, published by WIRED, highlights, “we have surrounded ourselves with machines that convert our actions, thoughts, and emotions into data—raw material for armies of code-wielding engineers to manipulate. We have come to see life itself as something ruled by a series of instructions that can be discovered, exploited, optimized, maybe even rewritten…”

The article continues, “In this world, the ability to write code has become not just a desirable skill but a language that grants insider status to those who speak it.”

Why not give your children, or students a head start in the world of coding? Could they learn and master code early on in their education, and make the most of the ample opportunities open to them in this field of study? Could they be the next scientists and engineers at the forefront of cutting edge AI research?

MakePi has designed a DIY tablet that effortlessly teaches kids as young as five how to code. It’s affordable, easy to use and incredibly powerful. To get the MakePad into the hands of students across the world, visit us at www.makepi.com and get on board!

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MakePi is an EdTech Hardware startup that develops STEM products to inspire and empower learners, makers and educators. Prepare your child for a creative future in technology!

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