Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Humans?

The New Yorker - 10.24.13 by Gary Marcus

“if it is smart enough, a robot that is designed to play chess might also want to be build a spaceship,”
If the New York Times’s latest article is to be believed, artificial intelligence is moving so fast it sometimes seems almost “magical.” Self-driving cars have arrived; Siri can listen to your voice and find the nearest movie theatre; and I.B.M. just set the “Jeopardy”-conquering Watson to work on medicine, initially training medical students, perhaps eventually helping in diagnosis. Scarcely a month goes by without the announcement of a new A.I. product or technique. Yet, some of the enthusiasm may be premature: as I’ve noted previously, we still haven’t produced machines with common sense, vision, natural language processing, or the ability to create other machines. Our efforts at directly simulating human brains remain primitive.

Still, at some level, the only real difference between enthusiasts and skeptics is a time frame. The futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil thinks true, human-level A.I. will be here in less than two decades. My estimate is at least double that, especially given how little progress has been made in computing common sense; the challenges in building A.I., especially at the software level, are much harder than Kurzweil lets on.

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Jack said...

The human equivalent AI argument is based on the belief that if one heaps together enough computing power it will automatically develop human level intelligence. That is in reality nothing more than a hope or threat, depending on how one looks at it, because we do not have an understanding of what consciousness is. Maybe some sort of consciousness will magically emerge from a pile of interconnected processors, but it seems a bit of a leap to say that it ever will happen with certainty.