A Timeline of AI Evolution | Towards AI
From the Clock to the Cloud: The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence
A timeline exploring the history of AI: From Gutenberg to Alexa
While computers have only been around for approximately seven decades, man has, for centuries and centuries, toyed with the idea that machines could complete the same cognitive processes as the human brain.
Early concepts and renderings of robots can be traced as far back to Greek mythology, and Chinese and Egyptian culture. To get a quick sense of the history of A.I., robots, and machines, here’s a very brief timeline of contributing milestones:
• Many myths in antiquity depicted human-like artifacts. Myths involving the blacksmith Hephaestus, for example, depicted mechanically-operated servants. Though the term “robot” wouldn’t be invented for many centuries, this can be considered one of the first conceptualizations of the idea.
• The first humanoid robot.
• Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press around 1440 AD.
• Leonardo da Vinci designs a “robot” in 1495.
• The first measuring machine, the clock, is invented.
• Blaise Pascal and Sir Samuel Morland invent devices capable of digital and arithmetical calculations and these are perfected by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
• The first programmable machine, the Jacquard loom, is invented by Joseph-Marie Jacquard.
• (1912) A chess machine operated by electromagnets is invented by Torres y Quevedo.
• (1920) The term “robot” is first used in the play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Czech playwright Karel Čapek.
• (1939) Westinghouse Electricat introduces a “mechanical man” at the 1939 World’s Fair.
• (1945) The concept of “heuristic thinking” is discussed in George Polya’s How to Solve It and is said to have significantly influenced the science behind artificial intelligence.
• (1950) The three laws of robotics are published by American writer Isaac Asimov.
• (1956). John McCarthy coins the term “Artificial Intelligence.”
• (1956). The first functional A.I. program is written by Allen Newell, JC Shaw, and Herbert Simon.
• (1957) Arthur Samuel of I.B.M. writes the first game playing program, capable of learning checkers and challenging a world champion.
• (1962) Unimation, the first industrial robot company, is founded.
• (1963–1971). It is discovered by several scientists that computers can solve the same kinds of analogies, problems, and understand language.
• (1973) The first mobile phone call is made.
• (1976) The Apple 1 hits the market and sells for $666.66.
• (1980) Lisp machines officially hit the market.
• (1981) Danny Hill designs the connection machine.
• (1989). The World Wide Web is created.
• (1992) I.B.M. creates the Simon Personal Communicator, the first “smartphone.”
• (2007). Apple releases the iPhone.
• (2010) Apple introduces personal assistant “Siri,” using voice-recognition and artificial intelligence technology.
• (2014) Microsoft introduces “Cortana,” a direct competitor of Apple’s Siri.
• (2015) Amazon releases the “Echo,” with personal assistant Alexa.
• (2015) The Future Society at Harvard launches the “AI Initiative,” dedicated to the study, advancement, and ethical use of, artificial intelligence.
Technology — including cloud computing and mobile devices — has fundamentally changed the way people consume news, plan their day, communicate, interact, and shop.
Two decades from now, what will the world look like?
By 2038, personal digital assistants could be trained to anticipate our needs, help manage our schedule, assist as we plan our social lives, prepare us for meetings, drive cares, and reply to and route communications.
Beyond our personal lives, A.I. will be able to assist advances in areas like agriculture, healthcare, education, and transportation. It’s already starting to happen in some industries.
As we’ve been witnessing over the past 20 years, new technology can also inevitably raise broad societal concerns and complex questions. As we look towards a future powered by a partnership between humans and computers, it’s essential that we face these challenges with caution.
How do we make sure that A.I. is designed and used ethically and responsibly? How do we establish certain ethical principles to protect society? How do we govern its use? And how will A.I. impact our employment and jobs?