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.
According to legend, the medieval philosopher and Franciscan friar Roger Bacon created an all-knowing artificial brain, which he encased in a bronze, human-like head. Bacon, so the story goes, wanted to use the insights gleaned from this "brazen head" to make sure Britain could never be conquered. Following Bacon, a long-standing challenge for engineers and computer scientists has been to build a silicon-based replica of the brain that could match, and then exceed, human intelligence. This ambition pushes us to imagine what we might do if we succeed in creating the next generation of computer systems that can think, dream and reason for us and with us. Today there is little talk of brazen heads, but artificial intelligence seems to be everywhere.
According to Gartner's survey of over 3,000 CIOs, Artificial intelligence (AI) was by far the most mentioned technology and takes the spot as the top game-changer technology away from data and analytics, which is now occupying a second place. AI is set to become the core of everything humans are going to be interacting with in the forthcoming years and beyond. Robots are programmable entities designed to carry out a series of tasks. When programmers embed human-like intelligence, behavior, emotions, and even when they engineer ethics into robots we say they create robots with an embedded Artificial Intelligence that is able to mimic any task a human can perform, including debating, as IBM showed earlier this year at CES Las Vegas. IBM has made a human-AI debate possible through its Project Debater, aimed at helping decision-makers make more informed decisions.
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.