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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can have a major impact on the way modern societies respond to the hard challenges they face. Properly harnessed, AI can create a more fair, healthy, and inclusive society. Today, AI has become a mature technology and an increasingly important part of the modern life fabric. AI is already deployed in different application domains, e.g. recommendation systems, spam filters, image recognition, voice recognition, virtual assistants, etc. It spans across many sectors, from medicine to transportation, and across decades, since the term was introduced in the 1950s. The approaches also evolved, from the foundational AI algorithms of the 1950s, to the paradigm shift in symbolic algorithms and expert system development in the 1970s, the introduction of machine learning in the 1990s and the deep learning algorithms of the 2010s. Starting with the fundamental definitions and building on the historical context, this report summarizes the evolution of AI, it introduces the “seasons” of AI development (i.e. winters for the decline and springs for the growth), describes the current rise of interest in AI, and concludes with the uncertainty on the future of AI, with chances of another AI winter or of an even greater AI spring.