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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is both the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science which aims to create it. Skynet is a (fictional) example of AI, while Watson is a real-world example of AI.
Major AI textbooks define artificial intelligence as "the study and design of intelligent agents," where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success. John McCarthy, who coined the term in 1956, defines it as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines."
Among the traits that researchers hope machines will exhibit are reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, communication, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. General intelligence (or "strong AI") has not yet been achieved and is a long-term goal of some AI research.
AI research uses tools and insights from many fields, including computer science, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, cognitive science, linguistics, ontology, operations research, economics, control theory, probability, optimization and logic. AI research also overlaps with tasks such as robotics, control systems, scheduling, data mining, logistics, speech recognition, facial recognition and many others.
Other names for the field have been proposed, such as computational intelligence, synthetic intelligence, intelligent systems, or computational rationality. These alternative names are sometimes used to set oneself apart from the part of AI dealing with symbols (considered outdated by many, see GOFAI) which is often associated with the term “AI” itself.
In artificial intelligence research, GOFAI ("Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence") is an approach to achieving artificial intelligence. In the robotics research, the term is extended as GOFAIR ("Good Old Fashioned Artificial Intelligence and Robotics"). The approach is based on the assumption that many aspects of intelligence can be achieved by the manipulation of symbols, an assumption defined as the "physical symbol systems hypothesis" by Alan Newell and Herbert Simon in the middle 1960s. The term "GOFAI" was coined by John Haugeland in his 1986 book Artificial Intelligence: The Very Idea, which explored the philosophical implications of artificial intelligence research.
GOFAI was the dominant paradigm of AI research from the middle fifties until the late 1980s. After that time, newer sub-symbolic approaches to AI became popular. Now, both approaches are in common use, often applied to different problems.
Opponents of the symbolic approach include roboticists such as Rodney Brooks, who aims to produce autonomous robots without symbolic representation (or with only minimal representation) and computational intelligence researchers, who apply techniques such as neural networks and optimization to solve problems in machine learning and control engineering.
While Skynet itself is an example of an AI system, its tools (HKs, Terminators, etc.) are also examples. Others include Barbara Chamberlain's ARTIE traffic control system, Zeira Corporation's John Henry (based on Andy Goode's The Turk), and Xander Akagi's Emma program.