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Artificial intelligence: How is it different from human intelligence?

Find out what AI is, how it differs from human intelligence and how it impacts our daily lives.

Written by MSc Artificial Intelligence Programme Director, Rameez Kureshi.

What is AI?


Despite the fact that there is no universally accepted definition, Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability to think and act like a human. Artificial intelligence lets the computer do the work by making decisions for you.


The father of AI, John McCarthy (1927-2011), defines it as "The science and engineering of making intelligent machines".


The common use of artificial intelligence is embedded in the form called cognitive computing, which has made it possible to undertake a number of applications that were previously routine only for experts. This technology has already proved its effectiveness in several fields such as medicine and education.


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Artificial intelligence is a combination of computer science, physiology, and philosophy, however, there are many different approaches to the interdisciplinary science of AI. To solve challenging real-world problems, scientists and researchers apply distinct methods to this advanced technology and improve computer machine functionality.


Norvig and Russell, the authors of “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach” define four different AI approaches:

  • Thinking humanly: mimicking thought based on the human mind.

  • Thinking rationally: mimicking thought based on logical reasoning.

  • Acting humanly: acting in a manner that mimics human behaviour.

  • Acting rationally: acting in a manner that is meant to achieve a particular goal.


Interested in more definitions for AI professionals? Check out our glossary:


What do you understand from this?


These approaches explain what is needed for the development of a better AI system, such as processing and reasoning of information, and how to deal with distinct behavioural attributes as humans do.


Artificial intelligence has a significant impact on how we conduct our daily lives. It's been around for decades but has recently become an integral part of our way of life. The idea of having a digital assistant at home ("Hey Google, tell me the weather forecast tomorrow!”) is more common than ever.


The ability to analyse multiple layers of information to make decisions based on what’s being described, who created it, and where it came from can seem sci-fi at first. But in reality, these technologies are impacting how we conduct business and even how we move through our own homes.

Artificial intelligence vs human intelligence?


Humans are responsible for designing and coding the algorithms which allow computer systems to handle complex problems and learn from the environment, making AI more versatile.


However, when it comes to multitasking, social interactions, and self-awareness, human intellect is much more advanced compared to AI. AI does not have IQ, it follows what instructions are set by humans for a specific task.


Artificial intelligence and human intelligence are often used interchangeably, however, they're separate things. While artificial intelligence includes technologies that let computers mimic cognitive processes such as learning and problem-solving, human intelligence is a collection of common mental traits such as creativity, perception, and memory.


Even though it's not yet possible to build an AI with human intelligence, research is pointing toward how each can be combined to create algorithms much like those used by human beings.


Despite these differences, AI applications can perform efficiently with precise accuracy, but their capacity is limited to being able to mimic human intelligence. Unlike humans though, AI cannot get exhausted or stressed, reducing the error ratio in task performance. In a nutshell, human intelligence uses their brain, memory and cognitive abilities while AI relies on the data provided by the human.


“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race... It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”- Stephen Hawking


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Rameez Kureshi is Programme Director for the MSc in Artificial Intelligence. His research interests include Industry 4.0 and sustainability and smart cities, and by combining his expertise in Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and the Internet of Things (IoT) he tackles environmental and societal challenges.

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