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What Is Artificial Intelligence?

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This technology is shaping the future.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a frequently used buzzword, but what is it specifically? In this Backstage Pass video, which aired Sept. 27, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Toby Bordelon, John Bromels, Jose Najarro, and Trevor Jennewine introduce themselves and share their thoughts on artificial intelligence.

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Toby Bordelon: Let's start with artificial intelligence. What is that to you? What is artificial intelligence? Why don't we start with Jose?

Jose Najarro: Hey, Toby. Artificial intelligence to me it means something man-made or artificial, that has the ability to learn. That's pretty much how I would go with artificial intelligence, some form of something man-made with the ability to learn. The ability to learn may either be from itself, from the help of others, or from the help of some other type of product itself.

Toby Bordelon: Cool. Thank you, Jose. I've just realized now I also forgot to introduce us. Let me go back to Jose. Give us 15, 20 seconds on your background, Jose, and then we'll do the other guys and the answer to this question will also give some background.

Jose Najarro: My name's Jose Najarro. I've been writing for the Fool for about six months. Prior to the Fool, I come from electrical engineer background. I've worked with some engineering firms. I'm super excited about this episode. In the Fool, I talk a lot about tech, gaming, and those sorts of markets. Thank you, Toby.

Toby Bordelon: All right. Let me go to John. John, first, give us your answer to this question. What is artificial intelligence? Then tell us a little bit about yourself.

John Bromels: Well, actually I'll combine these, Toby, speaking as The Motley Fool's resident highly advanced artificial intelligence construct, because honestly, you didn't think this was real in real life, did you? I'm actually going to differ from Jose slightly. I'm going to say that artificial intelligence is actually a man-made construct or a computer program that has the ability to think and process thoughts or rather process a program as one would a series of thoughts. But I feel learning is a whole different construct there. I'm going to quibble, I am just going to throw down the gauntlet. I'm John, I have been writing for The Motley Fool since 2014 and have covered a wide range of companies and industries, largely in industrials and energy and I also host the game show, CAN'T FOOL ME!, which Toby and Jose were actually contestants on just last week and did spectacularly well. Good to see you again, gentlemen.

Toby Bordelon: Thank you, John. Thank you for that. Let me turn to Trevor now. Trevor, same two questions. First, what does artificial intelligence mean to you? Then give us 15, 20 seconds about your background.

Trevor Jennewine: Sure. I have a new mic today, let me know if you guys can't hear me. Artificial intelligence, I'm going to go with John a little bit here. I think of it as a machine that's capable of doing tasks that require human intelligence. Not necessarily learning, just any time you have a machine that demonstrates human intelligence. As far as my background, I've been writing for the Fool for just under a year now, primarily covering tech stocks, but I have dabbled in other industries as well, but typically in the tech sector.

Toby Bordelon: Thanks, Trevor. Thanks for that. A little bit about me. I'm Toby Bordelon. I've been doing a lot of Fool Live, so I think some viewers have probably seen me and known me. I dive in a lot of different industries, a lot of different areas. I find companies and industries and ideas that I just find interesting and then just explore them a little bit. As for artificial intelligence, what I'm going to do is I'm going to share with you official definitions I found in places so we can compare that to Jose, John, and Trevor's impressions, thoughts about what this is. Let me share this. What we have on artificial intelligence. This is a definition that comes from Oracle. I accessed it on Oracle's website, a company doing some work in artificial intelligence.

What Oracle says is that artificial intelligence is systems or machines that mimic human intelligence to perform tasks and can iteratively improve themselves based on the information they collect. A few points to take away from the definition. Mimicking human intelligence in some way, not just a smart computer, but some way mimicking human intelligence. The other part of that is that second part, the ability to improve themselves based on information. Now we had a little bit of a debate here, a disagreement between John and Jose and Trevor, I think was more leaning to John's side. Is learning a part of that?

Well, improvement is a part of it, but I ask you just something to ponder, is iterative improvement necessarily learning, in the way we think about that? Maybe that's a distinction, maybe that's a nuance as we start to explore some of these concepts. Maybe it is as John suggested, a little bit of a higher level, but it's clear that to be a true artificial intelligence, the system or the machine has to be incapable of improving itself somehow based on information that it takes in in the course of performing its operations.

Trevor Jennewine has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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