One of the challenges in following the news about developments in the field of artificial intelligence is that the term “AI” is often used indiscriminately to mean two unrelated things.
The first use of the term AI is something more precisely called narrow AI. It is powerful technology, but it is also pretty simple and straightforward: You take a bunch of data about the past, use a computer to analyze it and find patterns, and then use that analysis to make predictions about the future. This type of AI touches all our lives many times a day, as it filters spam out of our email and routes us through traffic. But because it is trained with data about the past, it works only where the future resembles the past. That’s why it can identify cats and play chess, because they don’t change on an elemental level from day to day.