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What is Artificial Intelligence ?

This important report proposes an operational definition of artificial intelligence to be adopted in the context of AI Watch, the EU Commission knowledge service to monitor the development, uptake and impact of artificial intelligence for Europe.


The definition, which will be used as a basis for the AI Watch monitoring activity, is established by means of a flexible scientific methodology that allows regular revision. The operational definition is constituted by a concise taxonomy and a list of keywords that characterise the core domains of the AI research field, and transversal topics such as applications of the former or ethical and philosophical considerations, in line with the wider monitoring objective of AI Watch.


The AI taxonomy is designed to inform the AI landscape analysis and will expectedly detect AI applications in neighbour technological domains such as robotics (in a broader sense), neuroscience or internet of things.


The starting point to develop the operational definition is the definition of AI adopted by the High Level Expert Group on artificial intelligence. To derive this operational definition we have followed a mixed methodology. On one hand, we apply natural language processing methods to a large set of AI literature. On the other hand, we carry out a qualitative analysis on 55 key documents including artificial intelligence definitions from three complementary perspectives: policy, research and industry.


A valuable contribution of this work is the collection of definitions developed between 1955 and 2019, and the summarisation of the main features of the concept of artificial intelligence as reflected in the relevant literature.

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