Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Artificial intelligence: machine v man

Computers will soon become more intelligent than us. Some of the best brains in Silicon Valley are now trying to work out what happens next. 

Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines (2003) depicts a world terrorised by malevolent, human-killing robots

The scene in the cramped office in Berkeley on a recent Saturday feels like a typical start-up carried along by the tech boom, with engineers working through the weekend in a race against time. The long whiteboard down one wall has been scrawled over in different-coloured pens. A large jar of candy and a glass-doored fridge full of soda sit by the entrance.

Nate Soares, a former Google engineer, is sitting on the edge of a sofa weighing up the chances of success for the project he is working on. He puts them at only about 5 per cent. But the odds he is calculating aren’t for some new smartphone app. Instead, Soares is talking about something much more arresting: whether programmers like him will be able to save mankind from extinction at the hands of its own most powerful creation. 

The object of concern – both for him and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (Miri), whose offices these are – is artificial intelligence. Super-smart machines with malicious intent are a staple of science fiction, from the soft-spoken Hal 9000 to the scarily violent Skynet. But the AI that people like Soares believe is coming mankind’s way, very probably before the end of this century, would be much worse.

If it were a sci-fi movie, a small band of misfits would be thrown together at this point to save the planet. To the people involved in this race, that doesn’t seem so far from reality. Besides Soares, there are probably only four computer scientists in the world currently working on how to programme the super-smart machines of the not-too-distant future to make sure AI remains “friendly”, says Luke Muehlhauser, Miri’s director.

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1 comment:

  1. when molecules communicate sometimes they have meetings to discus things, therefore is nice to have their opinion of how things are.
    machines and humans or better say machines creates newer machines that resembles themselves. this is the riddle of a duality.


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