Understanding AI Basics: A Practical Guide for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. What is Artificial Intelligence?
  2. History of Artificial Intelligence
  3. Different types of Artificial Intelligence
  4. How Artificial Intelligence works
  5. Applications of Artificial Intelligence
  6. Impact of Artificial Intelligence on society
  7. Future of Artificial Intelligence
  8. Getting started with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or AI as we commonly call it—sounds like a term straight out of a sci-fi movie, doesn't it? Well, it's not as far-fetched as it may seem. AI is here, and it's becoming a big part of our lives. If you're interested in understanding AI basics, you're in the right place. This blog post is your practical guide to understanding AI basics, taking you from the history and types of AI to its impact and future prospects.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

So, let's start by understanding what AI is. Artificial Intelligence, in simple terms, is the ability of machines or computer programs to mimic human intelligence. This means, these machines can learn from experience, understand complex concepts, adapt to new inputs, and even perform tasks that would usually require human intelligence. Sounds intriguing, right?

But let's break it down a bit. Here's a beginner-friendly breakdown of the key points about AI:

  • Mimics Human Intelligence: AI systems are designed to act like humans. They can understand language, recognize patterns, solve problems, and make decisions.
  • Learning from Experience: Just like how you learn from your mistakes, AI systems can learn from experience. This is called machine learning, and it's a big part of AI.
  • Adapting to New Inputs: AI isn’t just about following instructions. It can adapt to new situations and changing information. For instance, your phone's voice assistant gets better at understanding your commands the more you use it.
  • Task Performance: AI can perform tasks that usually require human intelligence. This could range from spotting a face in a crowd to playing a game of chess at a grandmaster level!

In essence, AI isn't just about robots taking over the world. It's about creating technology that can think and learn like us, making our lives easier. So, as you continue your journey in understanding AI basics, remember—AI is a tool, not a replacement for us.

History of Artificial Intelligence

Now that we've gotten a basic understanding of what AI is, let's take a quick trip back in time to see how it all began. The concept of AI isn't as modern as you might think. The idea of machines that could mimic human intelligence has been around for centuries. However, the field of AI as we know it today took root in the mid-20th century. Let's break down the major milestones.

  1. 1950s: The term "Artificial Intelligence" was coined by John McCarthy, a computer scientist, during the Dartmouth Conference in 1956. This is considered the birth of AI as a field of study.
  2. 1960s-1970s: This period saw the first wave of AI research and development. The focus was on problem-solving and symbolic methods. However, the progress was slower than expected, leading to a reduction in funding and interest—known as the "AI winter".
  3. 1980s: AI got a reboot in the '80s with the advent of machine learning. The focus shifted from rule-based systems to systems that could learn from data. This period also marked the rise of AI in industries, with companies using AI for various applications.
  4. 1990s-2000s: This era saw significant advancements in machine learning and data-driven approaches, thanks to increased computational power and the availability of large datasets. AI started becoming an integral part of our daily lives, from search engines to recommendation systems.
  5. 2010s-Present: Today, we're in the era of AI ubiquity. With advancements in deep learning and neural networks, AI capabilities have expanded exponentially. AI is now a part of everything from self-driving cars to voice assistants and beyond.

As you can see, the journey of AI has been quite a rollercoaster. But it's clear that AI is here to stay. And as we move forward, understanding AI basics becomes even more important. Who knows, you might be part of the next big milestone in AI history!

Different Types of Artificial Intelligence

Now that we've traveled through time understanding the history of AI, let's decode the different types of AI that exist today. Did you know AI isn't just one-size-fits-all? It's a bit like ice cream - it comes in many flavors. Let's check out the most common ones:

  1. Narrow AI: This is the most common type of AI you'll come across today. It's designed to perform a specific task, such as voice recognition. Siri and Alexa are perfect examples of Narrow AI. They're smart, but only when it comes to the tasks they're designed for.
  2. General AI: This type of AI can perform any intellectual task that a human can. It can understand, learn, adapt, and implement knowledge in different domains. It's the kind of AI you see in movies like "The Terminator". But don't worry, we're not there yet!
  3. Superintelligent AI: This is the future of AI that some scientists dream about. Superintelligent AI surpasses human intelligence in almost all economically valuable work. It's fascinating or terrifying, depending on how you look at it.

So, there you have it - the three main types of AI. It's like walking into an ice cream shop and understanding the basic options - vanilla (Narrow AI), chocolate (General AI), and the double fudge brownie (Superintelligent AI). Now that you're familiar with understanding AI basics, choosing the right one shouldn't be too hard!

How Artificial Intelligence Works

Now that we've explored the different flavors of AI, you must be curious about how it all works. Let's say you're making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You need to understand the steps, right? First, you spread peanut butter on one slice of bread, then jelly on the other, and finally, you stick them together. Well, AI has its steps too. Unlike sandwich making, though, it involves a bit more math and coding.

  1. Data Collection: AI needs a lot of data to learn. It's like a newborn baby, absorbing every bit of information it can get. This data can come from many places—online searches, social media, or even your grocery shopping list.
  2. Data Processing: Once AI has data, it needs to understand what it all means. This is where algorithms come in. They're like a secret recipe that helps AI make sense of all the data it has collected.
  3. Data Learning: After processing the data, AI begins to learn from it. It's like studying for a test. The more you study, the more you understand. The more data AI has, the more it can learn and predict.
  4. Data Application: Finally, AI uses what it's learned to make decisions. For example, Netflix uses AI to suggest shows you might like based on what you've watched before. It's like your friend recommending a new burger place because they know you love burgers.

Remember, understanding AI basics doesn't mean you need a PhD in computer science. It's just like making a sandwich or choosing a new TV show. You're just swapping peanut butter and jelly for data and algorithms!

Applications of Artificial Intelligence

So, we've understood how AI works, but where do we see it in action? You might be surprised to know that AI is all around us, making our lives a bit easier and more interesting. Let's dive into some exciting applications of AI that you probably use every day without realizing it.

  1. Smart Assistants: Ever asked Siri to set an alarm for you? Or maybe you've asked Alexa about the weather. These smart assistants use AI to understand your voice and provide useful responses. They're like your personal helpers, always ready to assist.
  2. Social Media: Noticed how Facebook always knows which friend to tag in your photos? Or how Instagram suggests people you might know? That's AI at work, understanding our online behavior to make social media more engaging for us.
  3. Online Shopping: When you shop online, have you ever seen the "Customers who bought this also bought..." section? That's AI, using your shopping history to suggest other items you might like. It's like having a personal shopper who knows your taste.
  4. Self-Driving Cars: Companies like Tesla and Waymo are using AI to develop self-driving cars. These cars use AI to understand road signs, avoid obstacles, and even park themselves. It's like a video game, but in real life.

Remember, these are just some of the applications of AI. There are many more out there, and even more being developed as we speak. So next time you ask Siri a question or get a shopping suggestion, remember - that's AI working to make your life just a little bit easier. Understanding AI basics helps us appreciate these technologies even more.

Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Society

Understanding AI basics gives us a glimpse into the profound impact it has on society. AI is not just about cool gadgets or efficient workflows. It's reshaping the way we live, work, and interact with each other. Let's explore some of these impacts.

  1. Job Creation and Transformation: AI has created jobs that didn't exist a few years ago. AI specialists, data analysts, machine learning engineers - these are all new roles born from AI. However, it's also transforming existing jobs. For example, doctors now use AI tools for diagnosis, and teachers use AI-powered platforms for personalized learning.
  2. Improved Accessibility: AI is making the world more accessible for people with disabilities. Voice recognition enables those who can't type to write emails or browse the web. Image recognition helps visually impaired people understand their surroundings. AI is breaking down barriers and creating a more inclusive world.
  3. Enhanced Decision Making: AI helps us make better, more informed decisions. Whether it's a business deciding on a new product, a farmer predicting crop yields, or a city planning its traffic flow, AI provides insights that lead to smarter decisions.
  4. Increased Efficiency: AI automates repetitive tasks, saving us time and effort. Whether it's sorting emails, scheduling meetings, or processing data, AI takes care of the mundane tasks, freeing us up to focus on creative and complex problems.

While AI has its challenges - like privacy concerns and ethical issues - its impact on society is undeniable. As we deepen our understanding of AI basics, we can better navigate these challenges and harness the power of AI for positive change.

Future of Artificial Intelligence

When you get to grips with understanding AI basics, it's almost impossible not to ponder on the future. So, what does the future hold for AI? Well, while nobody can predict it with absolute certainty, the trends point towards some exciting developments.

  1. AI and Humans Working Together: The future isn't about AI replacing humans, but AI aiding humans. We're looking at a future where AI tools help us be more creative, productive, and efficient. For instance, imagine a chef using an AI tool to come up with new recipes, or a writer using AI to brainstorm novel plot ideas. The possibilities are endless!
  2. Advancements in Natural Language Processing: AI is getting better at understanding and generating human language. This means more advanced virtual assistants, more accurate translation tools, and new ways of interacting with our devices. In short, AI might soon be able to chat with us just like a human friend would.
  3. AI for Social Good: From tackling climate change to improving healthcare, AI has the potential to address some of our biggest societal challenges. In the future, we might see AI-driven initiatives playing a key role in creating a better, fairer, and more sustainable world.
  4. Greater Transparency in AI: As AI becomes more integrated into our lives, it's crucial that we understand how it's making decisions. Therefore, the future might see a push towards more transparent and explainable AI systems.

The future of AI is as thrilling as it is unpredictable. As we continue to explore and deepen our understanding of AI basics, who knows what incredible innovations we'll see in the coming years?

Getting Started with Artificial Intelligence

So, now that you've got a grasp of understanding AI basics, you might be wondering, "Where do I start if I want to dive deeper?". The good news is, there are plenty of resources out there to help you build on your foundation of knowledge and skills. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Start with Online Courses: There are many high-quality, beginner-friendly courses available online. Websites like Coursera, edX, and Udacity offer comprehensive courses that cover AI basics and more.
  2. Read Books: Books like "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig or "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" by Max Tegmark offer a deep dive into the world of AI. They can help you move from understanding AI basics to mastering advanced concepts.
  3. Join Communities: Join online AI communities on platforms like Reddit, LinkedIn, or GitHub. These communities can provide support, advice, and inspiration as you navigate your AI journey.
  4. Work on Projects: The best way to learn is by doing. Start a small AI project, like building a chatbot or creating a simple game. This will help you apply what you've learned and gain practical experience.
  5. Keep Up with the Latest Trends: AI is a rapidly evolving field. Stay updated with the latest trends and developments by following AI news on websites like AI Weekly, MIT Technology Review, or The Verge AI.

Remember, the journey of understanding AI basics and beyond is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't be discouraged if you don't understand everything right away. With patience, curiosity, and persistence, you'll see your knowledge and skills grow over time. Happy learning!

If you're intrigued by the basics of AI and want to explore its creative applications further, check out the workshop 'The Insane Potential of AI-Generated Art and Design' by Aunia Kahn. This workshop will help you understand the endless possibilities of AI in the realm of art and design, allowing you to harness its power for your creative projects.