[FoR&AI] The Seven Deadly Sins of Predicting the Future of AI – Rodney Brooks


We are surrounded by hysteria about the future of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. There is hysteria about how powerful they will become how quickly, and there is hysteria about what they will do to jobs. As I write these words on September 2nd, 2017, I note just two news stories from the last 48 hours. Yesterday, in the New York Times, Oren Etzioni, chief executive of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, wrote an opinion piece titled How to Regulate Artificial Intelligence where he does a good job of arguing against the hysteria that Artificial Intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. He proposes rather sensible ways of thinking about regulations for Artificial Intelligence deployment, rather than the chicken little "the sky is falling" calls for regulation of research and knowledge that we have seen from people who really, really, should know a little better. Today, there is a story in Market Watch that robots will take half of today's jobs in 10 to 20 years. It even has a graphic to prove the numbers. How many robots are currently operational in those jobs? How many realistic demonstrations have there been of robots working in this arena? Similar stories apply to all the other job categories in this diagram where it is suggested that there will be massive disruptions of 90%, and even as much as 97%, in jobs that currently require physical presence at some particular job site. Mistaken predictions lead to fear of things that are not going to happen. Why are people making mistakes in predictions about Artificial Intelligence and robotics, so that Oren Etzioni, I, and others, need to spend time pushing back on them? Below I outline seven ways of thinking that lead to mistaken predictions about robotics and Artificial Intelligence. We find instances of these ways of thinking in many of the predictions about our AI future. I am going to first list the four such general topic areas of such predictions that I notice, along with a brief assessment of where I think they currently stand. Research on AGI is an attempt to distinguish a thinking entity from current day AI technology such as Machine Learning. Here the idea is that we will build autonomous agents that operate much like beings in the world.

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