Interview: Paul Allen's artificial intelligence guru on the future of robots and humanity - GeekWire


Artificial intelligence may seem like a futuristic concept, but we're already experiencing it in real ways in our lives, whether we know it or not -- in areas including speech recognition, spam filters and even loan processing. And AI is only going to get more sophisticated from here. That was one of the messages from Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Etzioni spoke with us for this week's episode of the GeekWire radio show and podcast. Our conversation comes amid a boom in everyday AI, from self-driving cars to a computer that has mastered the game of Go. Microsoft put its stake in the ground with an AI-driven vision that CEO Satya Nadella calls "Conversation as a Platform," with virtual agents working on our behalf. Etzioni takes a much more optimistic view of AI than some of his peers. "The existential risk is just way overblown," he says. "It's much more likely that an asteroid will strike the Earth and annihilate life as we know it than AI will turn evil. Listen to the show below, download the MP3 here, and continue reading for an edited transcript of this week's show. Todd Bishop: Oren, in your current position, you really have a sense for the state of artificial intelligence. I think a lot of people out there see it in their daily lives in a very primitive form. They're watching Google's DeepMind beat a world champion Go player. The potential of artificial intelligence is there in a rudimentary form.