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AI matters
AI matters

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Week 1: Surrounded by AI


In this first week you will get an overview of the historical, social and cultural background of Artificial Intelligence (AI). What you will find is that AI is not so much a single, neatly defined discipline, but rather, it is an assemblage of themes, ideas, and technologies.

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Figure 1

While AI is most widely known as an area of scientific and engineering endeavour, it is a relative newcomer to the scene, having emerged from early work by computer scientists around the middle of last century. And yet, humanity’s interest in artificial beings that are similar in various respects to humans has a long and complex history, and our focus and interest in such beings has had significant impact on society and culture.

Moreover, the increasing and widespread adoption of AI technology is having even greater impact on society and culture, not only in terms of delivering great benefits to everyday life, but also regarding the great harms, both actual and potential, caused by such rapid adoption of technology. You will explore these issues and more in what follows.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course LG003 - AI matters [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .