When was the last time you asked your computer something? There's Siri, Google, and Cortana of course, but these systems, clever as they may be, are the thin end of a newly emerging wedge of remarkable new approaches to computer learning and marketing. If you need proof that we are entering a new era of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) you need to look no further than Google's DeepMind project. Early this year DeepMind, Google's AI computer, developed initially in London, challenged and beat South Korean Grandmaster Lee Sedol at the ancient game of Go. Why this challenge is so important requires you to think back to the Deep Blue computer, which finally beat Gary Kasparov at chess in the 1990s.
You cannot, it appears, afford to ignore Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days. In March, Google Inc.-owned AI firm, DeepMind's computer programme, AlphaGo, beat Go champion, Lee Seedol. And this very year, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg chatted about building personal AI projects at home while International Business Machines Corp.'s (IBM's) supercomputing engine Watson trended, and other headlines screamed Big Oil tapping into Watson, Big Data for Medicine and Smart Concierge Robots. Not one to be left behind in the AI news race, Microsoft Corp. released its conversational chatbot--Tay, which had learnt about the world from 18–24 year olds on microblogging and chatting sites like Twitter, GroupMe and Kik. However, Tay turned racist and sexist within 24 hours because the people she spoke to, crammed her with hate and anger.
The term "artificial intelligence" is being thrown around a lot lately. But what is artificial intelligence, really? With A.I.'s like Siri, Cortana, and more, the world is approaching what is known as The Singularity, the era of the machine. Though these A.I. are nothing like James Cameron's Skynet in the 1984 sci-fi smash hit The Terminator, it is imperative to understand where artificial intelligence came from in order to fully comprehend where it is going next. Many filmmakers and authors were afraid of the rise of artificial intelligence and attempted to capture this fear in many notable and influential works of fiction that are still relevant today.
A good friend recently told me that it takes a special kind of nerd to appreciate what Google's AlphaGo did to international Go champion Lee Sedol: a nerd that is both a Go nerd and a computer nerd. For Go nerdiness, I am recently enamored with the massively complex game that has exponentially more outcomes and dimensions than chess. As for the tech nerdiness, many of us assumed that after DeepBlue beat Kasparov in chess, any other game was a foregone conclusion. But actually, it's taken twenty years for a computer to rise to the level of top-ranked Go players, because high-level Go incorporates less calculation of a limited set of future outcomes and far more intuition. Challenges like this are not just an interesting competition.
This is also known in leading AI research circles as Artificial Narrow Intelligence or simply ANI. Google's autonomous car is an ANI system, so are aircraft flying systems, search engine technologies, stock market systems, Japan's industrial and home robotics or Google's AlphaGO which recently beat Grandmaster Lee Sedol at the game of Go. Tech will gain this ability by acquiring the ability to read, comprehend and derive meaning intelligently from existing big data. This is Artificial General Intelligence or simply AGI.