Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems

Social and Ethical Issues

  • responsibility for the performance of an expert system (knowledge engineer, informant programmer, company that sold it, the buyer/consumer)
  • importance of AI as a field to invest money
  • ethical issues of various applications of AI, eg replacing human workers, decision making handled by computers
  • social impact of the use of 'smart' machines on everyday life
  • ethical issues related to military applications eg smart weapons
  • implications of creative production by computers using AI
  • access to the knowledge base underlying an inference engine in an expert system

Knowledge of Technology

  • Key terms: AI, Turing test, parallel processing, machine learning, natural language, common-sense knowledge, agent, pattern recognition, expert system, knowledge base, inference engine, heuristics, fuzzy logic, knowledge engineer, domain
  • storage requirements for common-sense knowledge
  • processing requirements for AI
  • collection/creation of a knowledge base
  • creation of an inference engine eg if/then rules, fuzzy logic
  • identifying domains that are suitable for expert systems


Wikipedia definition for AI
Wikipedia definition for Expert system
Beekman, G. (2006). Computer Confluence. Seventh edition. Prentice Hall. Chapter 15: Is Artificial Intelligence Real?
ThinkQuest: Expert Systems
The Teacher: Expert Systems in Medicine
An expert system example
Another definition and discussion about what an expert system is
Expert Systems: good info page
Medical expert systems
Definition with image


  1. Read Beekman Chapter 15. Complete all multiple choice questions on page 610.
  2. Choose two key terms (not those found in Q3 here) from the list above. Find 3 definitions of each term. Copy and paste these into your document. Now, write your own, user-friendly definition based on these 3. Aim for originality and clarity. Give an example (recent article or website) to support your definition and explanation of the term.
  3. What is a knowledge base? What is an expert system? How are the two related?
  4. What kinds of human jobs are most likely to be eliminated because of expert systems? What kinds of new jobs will be created because of expert systems?