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.
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.
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.
Could you be playing the next big video game with your voice? Voice assistants can seem supersmart. Ask my Amazon Alexa why the sky is blue, and you'll get a lesson in light refraction through the atmosphere. Ask it what CNET is and things start to break down. "In addition CNET currently has region-specific and language-specific editions."
On Wednesday March 23, Microsoft unleashed its brand new AI on Twitter. Her name was Tay, and she was programmed to tweet like a teenage girl. Microsoft didn't intend for that to happen, of course. It wanted to test and improve its algorithm for conversational language. According to Microsoft, Tay was built by "mining relevant [anonymous] public data" which was "modeled, cleaned, and filtered" to create her personality.