If you happen to have a free 30 hours or so, I would highly recommend watching Google's AlphaGo program take on one of the best players in the world at the ancient Chinese board game Go. If you don't have that much time, you could instead just watch the 6-hour third match, where the program wrapped up the best of five series. It's literally history being made. Some news outlets have covered this feat, but I don't think many people understand how monumental this actually is. Back in 1997, when Garry Kasparov was beaten by IBM's Deep Blue in chess, people were more excited about the future of computing.
In an earlier blog article I wrote about how human intelligence differs from artificial intelligence, namely human intelligence is general intelligence while artificial intelligence is specialized intelligence. The article provides "food for thought" for those who fear technology evolution, and specifically AI. In today's article I offer more reflections on the evolution of AI. Put in simple words, AI is about Thinking Machines. The English computer scientist Alan Turing was the first academic who proposed to consider the question "Can machines think?" in 1950.
Decades of research in artificial intelligence (AI) have produced formidable technologies that are providing immense benefit to industry, government, and society. AI systems can now translate across multiple languages, identify objects in images and video, streamline manufacturing processes, and control cars. The deployment of AI systems has not only created a trillion-dollar industry that is projected to quadruple in three years, but has also exposed the need to make AI systems fair, explainable, trustworthy, and secure. Future AI systems will rightfully be expected to reason effectively about the world in which they (and people) operate, handling complex tasks and responsibilities effectively and ethically, engaging in meaningful communication, and improving their awareness through experience. Achieving the full potential of AI technologies poses research challenges that require a radical transformation of the AI research enterprise, facilitated by significant and sustained investment. These are the major recommendations of a recent community effort coordinated by the Computing Community Consortium and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence to formulate a Roadmap for AI research and development over the next two decades.
The recent win of AlphaGo over Lee Sedol--one of the world's highest ranked Go players--has resurfaced concerns about artificial intelligence. We have heard about A.I. stealing jobs, killer robots, algorithms that help diagnose and cure cancer, competent self-driving cars, perfect poker players, and more. It seems that for every mention of A.I. as humanity's top existential risk, there is a mention of its power to solve humanity's biggest challenges. Demis Hassabis--founder of Google DeepMind, the company behind AlphaGo--views A.I. as "potentially a meta-solution to any problem," and Eric Horvitz--director of research at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, lab--claims that "A.I. will be incredibly empowering to humanity." By contrast, Bill Gates has called A.I. "a huge challenge" and something to "worry about," and Stephen Hawking has warned about A.I. ending humanity.
It feels like this man needs no introduction, but for anyone who doesn't know who Demis Hassabis is, here's the lowdown. He's the cofounder and chief executive of the London-headquartered DeepMind AI lab, which was acquired by Google in 2014 for £400m. Prior to DeepMind, Hassabis had his own computer games company called Elixir Studios, but his passion for games goes way back. He was a chess master at the age of 13 and the second-highest-rated under 14 player in the world at one time. Catherine Breslin is a machine learning scientist and consultant based in Cambridge.