Most Important Milestones in the History of Artificial Intelligence (AI Infographics)

The main advances in Artificial Intelligence happened only in the last sixty years. In 1956 John McCarthy coined the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ when he conducted an academic conference in this field. However, long before that people have been trying to understand whether machines could work and think like human beings. Let’s learn the history of the development of ideas in Artificial Intelligence through this infographic.


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You’ve heard of Siri, Watson, Tay, Alexa? Driverless Cars? Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving these and many other technological breakthroughs.

The novelty of these innovations may imply AI is new, only appearing in recent years.  However, philosophers and scientists speculated about such technology hundreds of years ago. Academic circles have studied AI mathematical theory and computer science for many decades. With progress in computer engineering, scientists have made strides in building machines capable of mimicking the decision-making system of the human brain.

But now, AI has come a long way from speculation.  Before its current cutting-edge deep learning and artificial neural network, AI passed through many milestones on its journey. Here are some of the most important ones: 

  1. 1637: Philosopher and scientist Rene Descartes proposed that one-day machines could think and make decisions like human beings. 
  2. 1666: Philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz published his Dissertatio de arte combinatoria (in English: On the Combinatorial Art), in which he proposes an alphabet of human thought where all ideas are a combination of a comparatively small number of simple concepts.
  3. 1854: George Boole established Boolean algebra and proposed that logical reasoning can be conducted as systematically as solving a system of equations.
  4. 1914: Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres y Quevedo developed the first chess-playing machine, which was capable of playing king-and-rook against king endgames without any outside human intervention.
  5.  1921: Czech author Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot” in his play R.U.R.
  6. 1925: Houdina Radio Control launched a radio-controlled driverless car on the streets of New York City.
  7. 1927: The science-fiction film Metropolis featured a robot double of a peasant girl, Maria. It was the first robot depicted in a film.
  8. 1929: Makoto Nishimura created Gakutensoku, the first robot designed in Japan. It was capable of changing its facial expression and moving its head and hands through an air pressure mechanism.
  9. 1937: H.G. Wells made the prediction that “the whole human memory can be, and probably in a short time will be, made accessible to every individual.” 
  10. 1943: Walter Pitts and Warren S. McCulloch published A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity, discussing networks of idealized artificial “neurons” and how they perform simple logical functions.
  11. 1947: Statistician John W. Tukey introduced the term “bit” for a binary digit, a unit of information stored in a computer.
  12. 1949: Donald Hebb published Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological Theory that proposed a theory about learning based on conjectures about neural networks.
  13. 1950: Claude Shannon published “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess” articles on developing a chess-playing computer program.
  14. 1950: Alan Turing proposed the Turing Test in Computing Machinery and Intelligence, arguing that if a machine can trick a human into thinking that it’s human, then the machine has intelligence.
  15. 1951: Marvin Minsky and Dean Edmunds created the first artificial neural network using 3,000 vacuum tubes, simulating a network of 40 neurons.
  16. 1955: AI Born- Scientists John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, and Claude Shannon coined the term “Artificial Intelligence,” which is defined as the “science and engineering of making an intelligent machine.”
  17. 1955: Herbert Simon and Allen Newell created the first AI program, the Logic Theorist, which goes on to prove 38 of the first 52 theorems in Whitehead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica.
  18. 1956: The Dartmouth Conference was held, with Dartmouth professor John McCarthy bringing together leading experts to discuss topics like natural language processing, computer vision, and neural networks.
  19. 1959: Arthur Samuel coined the term “machine learning.”
  20. 1959: Oliver Selfridge published Pandemonium: A Paradigm for Learning, which described a model for how computers could recognize patterns not specified in advance.
  21. 1959: John McCarthy published Programs with Common Sense, which described the Advice Taker program  for solving problems by manipulating sentences in formal languages so the program could “learn from their experience as effectively as humans do.”
  22. 1961: The first industrial robot, Unimate, was deployed on an assembly line in a General Motors plant.
  23. 1966: Joseph Weizenbaum developed ELIZA, the world’s first chatbot and an ancestor of Alexa and Siri.
  24. 1966: Shakey, the first general-purpose mobile robot, was introduced. It was able to reason about its own actions. 
  25. 1969: Arthur Bryson and Yu-Chi Ho talked about backpropagation as a multi-stage dynamic system optimization method, which contributed to the success of deep learning in the 2000s and 2010s.
  26. 1970: The first anthropomorphic robot, the WABOT-1, was designed at Waseda University in Japan.
  27. 1979: Kunihiko Fukushima developed neocognitron — a multilayered artificial, hierarchical, and neural network. 
  28. 1997: Deep Blue, the first computer chess program, beat the reigning world chess champion, Gary Kasparov.
  29. 2000: Cynthia Breazeal at MIT developed Kismet, which can recognize and simulate emotions.
  30. 2000: Honda’s ASIMO robot demonstrated it can walk as fast as a human and deliver trays to customers in a restaurant-like setting.
  31. 2001: Steven Spielberg released the A.I. Artificial Intelligence movie, in which a childlike android called David has the ability to love.
  32. 2006: Michele Banko, Oren Etzioni, and Michael Cafarella coined the term “machine reading,” an inherently unsupervised autonomous understanding of the text.
  33.  2009: Rajat Raina, Anand Madhavan, and Andrew Ng published Large-scale Deep Unsupervised Learning Using Graphics Processors. They asserted that “modern graphics processors far surpass the computational capabilities of multicore CPUs, and have the potential to revolutionize the applicability of deep unsupervised learning methods.”
  34.  2011: A convolutional neural network won the German Traffic Sign Recognition competition with 99.46% accuracy, compared to humans at 99.22%.
  35. 2011: Watson, IBM’s natural language question-answering computer, beat two former champions on Jeopardy.
  36. 2012:  University of Toronto’s convolutional neural network achieved a 16% error rate in the ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge, an improvement from the 25% error rate achieved the year before by the best entry.
  37. 2017:  Google DeepMind’s A.I. AlphaGo beat champion Lee Sedol in the complex board game of Go.