Some of the most popular movies in the past few decades or so are about AI – Terminator, War Games and The Matrix – and present it as an existential threat to mankind. But the reality is much less dramatic. The term ‘AI’, as it is used in pop culture, in fact refers to ‘artificial general intelligence’ and describes an intelligent system that, much like a human, is able to learn and execute a broad range of tasks. However, the creation of artificial general intelligence that could rival the human brain is still in the very distant future. The term ‘narrow AI’ has thus been coined to define an AI system that carries out one or very few tasks. Such systems are already part of our lives, though we may not be aware of them (eg, the autocorrect function on a phone or speech assistance on a smartphone).

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