As our society's technological progress marches forward, we've become ever more fascinated with the concept of artificial general intelligence (AGI). From IBM's Jeopardy-playing computer, Watson to television programs like Westworld, we've collectively begun exploring and philosophizing about the potential of AGI. Of course, most discussions about AGI in our popular culture are focused on the future, and not the current realities of the present when it comes to artificial general intelligence. Below, we'll discuss the current realities of AGI and what breakthroughs we're on the cusp of in 2018. How Close Are We To True Artificial General Intelligence?
You could argue that artificial intelligence (AI) got started many years ago with a grand challenge. That, of course, was Alan Turing's "Imitation Game," which he presented in his seminal 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence." Essentially, it involved building machines that can behave indistinguishably from the way a thinker behaves. In the example that Turing provides, that behavior is entirely focused on human (or humanlike) conversation. In many ways, that grand challenge is already history.
Artificial intelligence has the capability to far surpass our intelligence in a relatively short period of time. But AI expert Ben Goertzel knows that the foundation has to be strong for that artificial brain power to grow exponentially. It's all good to be super-intelligent, he argues, but if you don't have rationality and empathy to match it the results will be wasted and we could just end up with an incredible number-cruncher. In this illuminating chat, we makes the case for thinking bigger. Ben Goertzel's most recent book is AGI Revolution: An Inside View of the Rise of Artificial General Intelligence.
Everywhere you look nowadays, it seems that artificial intelligence is making enormous leaps and bounds. It's gotten smart enough that it can trounce humans in a growing number of tasks -- winning games like chess, Go and poker, as well as engaging in creative endeavors such as writing novels and music -- all once thought of as unassailable by machines. We're also seeing an emerging trend of AI-powered automation in industries like medicine, sales, retail and hotel management -- making us wonder what will happen once the machines take all the jobs. Nevertheless, despite these recent, high-profile achievements, AI still has some ways to go before it even comes close to truly imitating and even surpassing the complex mystery that epitomizes human intelligence. While there have been advances in getting machines to learn how to learn and reason like humans, current AI models are still relatively narrow in their scope, and have yet to embody the full range of cognitive abilities that humans use daily in solving a wide range of problems.
Why is everyone talking about it all of a sudden? If you skim online headlines, you'll likely read about how AI is powering Amazon and Google's virtual assistants, or how it's taking all the jobs (debatable), but not a good explanation of what it is (or whether the robots are going to take over). We're here to help with this living document, a plain-English guide to AI that will be updated and refined as the field evolves and important concepts emerge.