Human beings begin to learn the difference before we learn to speak--and thankfully so. We owe much of our success as a species to our capacity for moral reasoning. It's the glue that holds human social groups together, the key to our fraught but effective ability to cooperate. We are (most believe) the lone moral agents on planet Earth--but this may not last. The day may come soon when we are forced to share this status with a new kind of being, one whose intelligence is of our own design. Robots are coming, that much is sure. They are coming to our streets as self-driving cars, to our military as automated drones, to our homes as elder-care robots--and that's just to name a few on the horizon (Ten million households already enjoy cleaner floors thanks to a relatively dumb little robot called the Roomba). What we don't know is how smart they will eventually become.
If there's any comfort offered during the current debate around robots, automation and the future of work, it's that robots can't do creativity. Machines are great for automated, precise, repetitive work; not so great for creative, expressive work. Beating beneath the discussion is a steady pulse of fear that once the technology leaps from apprentice to creative independent agent, robots could cause mass unemployment, bring about a dystopian society and steal our very reason for being. Yet there are some who argue that robots getting creative could actually make the world a better place. Machines will analyse and come up with solutions for environmental problems, such as infrastructure and design, that humans couldn't possibly conceive, for example.
You probably encounter it on a daily basis. Your actions help it grow. Yet you rarely give it a second thought. Artificial intelligence is in your pocket. We comb through search results and social feeds on our screens. We rely on our GPS systems to suggest the best route. We make buying decisions based on recommendations by savvy algorithms that track our browsing habits. We make inquiries of our personal assistants dutifully standing by in our kitchens and dens, or at the ready on our phones. Whether we consider it helpful or intrusive, empowering or manipulative, the technology is at our disposal. How we use it, is our choice. RIA sought out notable voices in AI to help us better understand the sometimes elusive nature of artificial intelligence. These are researchers and entrepreneurs with decades of experience working in the AI and robotics fields.
Most of us followed the exciting introduction of the new iPhone X, and there you also saw in the press conference, it's all about machine learning now for face recognition, applied also, machine learning in face recognition to unlock your phone. So, I think we all experience it already with our smartphones, and going forward, we'll see much more of it. Michael Chui: What we're starting to see is these AI technologies underpinning a lot of the things, all the online and mobile services that we're now increasingly taking advantage of. So, for instance, in e-commerce or media, when systems are providing you with suggestions for things you might be interested in, things you might be interested in reading or things you might be interested in buying--the next-product-to-buy use case, as we describe it--increasingly, those types of systems are powered not only by statistical methods, but by some of these AI technologies as well, hopefully bringing consumers closer to the things that they'd be most interested in. Simon London: I'm going to throw one more into the pot there. I'm lucky enough to live in the city of Mountain View in Silicon Valley. There are a surprising number of self-driving cars out on the road.
You submitted your questions about artificial intelligence and robotics, and we put them – and some of our own – to The Conversation's experts. It is 100% plausible that we'll have human-like artificial intelligence. I say this even though the human brain is the most complex system in the universe that we know of. But there are also no physical laws we know of that would prevent us reproducing or exceeding its capabilities. Popular AI from Issac Asimov to Steven Spielberg is plausible. What the question doesn't address is: when will it be plausible? Most AI researchers (including me) see little or no evidence of it coming anytime soon. Progress on the major AI challenges is slow, if real.