How we built machines that can think for themselves

The computers we have built are now capable of thinking for themselves, and doing complex jobs without our supervision. Where does it go from here?

World-changing ideas summit

It was renowned British computer scientist Alan Turing – the man who helped crack the Nazi Enigma code – who first came up with a test to see if a machine could show the kind of intelligent behavior seen in humans.

In the decades since the Turing test was proposed, computers have become so intelligent that we often don’t realise when we’re talking to them. That helpful customer services rep who assisted you through your problems over a messaging service? Probably a chatbot, programmed to react to key words contained in your requests.

We have gone from computers that can bamboozle a chess grandmaster to intelligent systems that will drive our cars. Watch the video above to see what else our learning servants may one day take off our hands.

Join 700,000+ Future fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram

If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Friday.