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Artificial Intelligence (AI): The Technological Singularity
Transcript of Artificial Intelligence (AI): The Technological Singularity
In Today's Talk:
Technology Singularity - What the heck is that?
Humanity will change more in the next twenty years than in the previous three hundred years before - Gerd Leonhard
We have seen a lot of fundamental changes and developments in the not so distant past that have resulted in BIG changes:
What is going to drive these changes?
Answer: Exponential Technologies
Some theorise that this will result in “a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful super-intelligence that would, qualitatively, far surpass all human intelligence
A hypothetical event / point in time where the accelerating or exponential technological progress that we spoke of will result in a discontinuity or evolutionary leap, beyond which, events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence.
Many see the brain as nothing more, and nothing less, than a very powerful computer, honed over millions of years of evolution, to do a fantastic job and hence conclude that all the brain’s functions, including consciousness, can be recreated in a machine. It’s just a matter of time.
Heaven / Utopian View
Exponential growth is hard to imagine so it always seems easier in our minds to jump to the extreme of a scale i.e. Heaven (Utopia) or Hell (Dystopia).
Cue Artifical Intelligence...
AI is a branch of Computer Science
Science Fiction to Fact?
Welcome to the July Innovation Series Talk
Exponential Technology and its implications
Artificial Intelligence - Why is it all the rage?
The modern internet as we know it (when ARPAnet shifted to the TCP/IP protocol) was in 1983
Amazon was founded in 1994
Smartphones did not really come on the scene until 2000
Google’s IPO was in 2004
These are technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles, Blockchain, Robotics, Digital Fabrication, Cognitive Computing, Internet of Things, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality / Mixed Reality and so on...
These are the technologies that are transforming our usual ways of thinking, behaving, and relating to one another in the world. They are the reasons that society will change in countless ways as it is propelled further
Technology (and humanity) evolves
And the output of all this connectivity?
Moore’s law states the number of transistors on integrated circuits will continue to double every 18 months, effectively meaning our devices have the potential to do twice as many new, innovative, and unexpected things every 2 years
Ray Kurzweil’s ‘Law of Accelerating Returns’ builds on this by showing that the pace of change and rate of progress in time speeds up — we use the latest technology to create the next, to build on what has come before, so each new generation of technology grows exponentially in capability
The cost-performance relationship of computing power, storage and bandwidth / connectivity have been the building blocks of this evolution /exponential growth
The Cloud and Mobile, and the ubiquity of the smartphone (our mobile phones are becoming our external brains), means that everyone and everything is becoming connected.
Lots and lots and lots of raw data , effectively what we term ‘Big Data’.
But what good is data if we don’t get knowledge or useful insights from it, or use it to its potential? You need intelligence; software that discovers the data for you.
Fundamentally it is a set of algorithms and techniques to try to mimic, or simulate, human intelligence
In other words, intelligence exhibited by machines (I use the term ‘machines’ loosely as an AI does not have to have a machine ‘body’ per se)
AI as a discipline has been around since the 1950’s. After the initial excitement of progress, it entered into some periods of what is known as AI Winters. Not much going on....not until the 1990's
Why? Because “rather than using the core tools of logic which are still important, they started using the core tools of probability and statistics. They had a focus on uncertainty, which turned out to be the key thing you need to manage” (Machine learning, natural language processing, neural networks etc.)
So with better algorithms and techniques, lots of money invested, and much, much better computers and technology, we have started to see real progress
AI is all around us
Most or all of our favourite social outlets (Facebook, Google, Pinterest etc.) use it, our smartphones use it, cars use it etc. and Intelligent Assistants are now mainstream:
Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s OK Google, and Amazon’s Echo
VIV “global brain” is an artificial intelligence platform that enables developers to create an intelligent, conversational interface to anything.
Grid.io uses AI to build websites — websites that design themselves
Microsoft can now translate conversations, real time, between eight different languages — 56 different combinations. And they are releasing the API so partners can integrat it into their own apps
The Next Rembrandt Project used data, deep learning and 3D printing to create a brand new Rembrandt painting. The AI created the picture!
AlphaGo, a computer program developed by Google DeepMind to play the board game Go, beat the top Go player in the world.
ALPHA, an AI for Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) in the physical world, potentially flying missions alongside human pilots, beat a professional fighter pilot with decades of experience in simulations.
Futurist Kevin Kelly says that lots of future business models will just be ‘X + AI’.
We are going to see hundreds of start-ups doing things better than trained humans can do.
Should we look at all of this and think
(1) AI can make humans better at what they do or (2) O crap, we are going to be in big trouble?
So far AI’s can mostly do only what they were explicitly programmed to do
However with the exponential technology and law of accelerating returns we spoke about earlier, some technologists and futurists believe that we are, within our lifetime, on the event horizon of a technological singularity
Whether that is good or bad seems to be a matter of great debate
A means to defeat disease and defeat aging - medical advances will allow us to continuously repair and replace defective components in our bodies (nanomachine organ repair), where technology will enhance and fuse with our biology.
Hell / Dystopia View
It may even bring immortality by ‘uploading’ — “where the human brain (and most probably their state of consciousness) will be replicable in computerized form, leading to (among other things) virtual immortality”
Your consciousness may be able to go from mechanical body to mechanical body, or virtual paradise to virtual paradise
In other words, a tipping point moment in time where technology (AI) will reach a stage of intelligence / self-awareness that exceeds human intelligence and ‘takes-off’.
In short, technology figures out how to make itself better, and takes off on its own in continuous / recursive self-improvement.
we will have the first computer that is going to be as powerful as the human brain in capacity.
we will have a computer that will have the capacity of all of the brains in the world. In other words machine intelligence will outperform
of human intelligence
Some theorise that:
Each technology brings massive change on its own, but they are amplified when viewed collectively - when they overlap, feed off each other they begin to drive change at a continuously faster and faster pace
They are driving accelerating innovation and new business models (fast, agile and liquid) in all areas and fields.
Some disruptors in the recent past: Spotify for Music, Netflix for TV/Movies, Kindle for Books, Uber for Transport, Airbnb for Travel, Tesla for Automobiles, SpaceX for Space Exploration
Side Note: The industry has said that by 2021 it will be too expensive to further miniaturise (i.e. Moore's Law will come to an end). However, more specialised chips, geometry of the chips (multi-layered) and energy efficiency of chips over speed will mean that chip technology will continue to advance
Concerns that Artificial Intelligence is a real danger (Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates). The fear is that a super-intelligence will either enslave humanity for whatever it believes is its purpose or eradicate humanity or all biological life.
It may not even be intentional, but the Law of Unintended Consequences. Elon Musk highlighted this when he said “If its [function] is just something like getting rid of e-mail spam and it determines the best way of getting rid of spam is getting rid of humans..."
In the shorter term there are concerns that tasks done by humans will be taken over by clever machines and as a result destroy millions of jobs.
We are already in a Protopia state - things are better today than they were yesterday, although only a little better. It is incremental improvement or mild progress - Kevin Kelly
Protopia is a state of becoming, rather than a destination. Pro = Progress
The problems of today were caused by yesterday's technological successes, and the technological solutions to today's problems will cause the problems tomorrow. So we end up with a steady accumulation of small net benefits over time.
We have to remember that technology future predictions have often turned out to be futuristic fantasies, reality being different versions of what we had imagined, or no versions at all
On the edge of exponential change, it can feel a little scary
but it really just feels just like
We are used to viewing time and progress as linear in nature. We use what has come before to try and predict our future.
Having the ability to reason, to understand, to make rational choices, and to look at things analytically is important, but it is not the only things that makes us human. Our ability to feel emotions and our consciousness (being aware) are equally, if not more so, important.
I think it is much more, or at least, will take us longer to understand. Case in point is the medical mystery of a forty four year old French father of two who lives a relatively normal, healthy life — despite missing ninety percent of his brain. He only went to the doctor complaining of mild weakness in his left leg. Scientists are wondering “how can someone lose the majority of their neurons and still be aware of themselves and their surroundings?”
While it is always easy to jump to the fear option, many leading voices are skeptical of the doomsday scenario. Even today we think (feel) the world is getting worse. But by every metric we care about, the world really is getting better. Education, rights, it’s all getting better, and yet there’s the sense that things are getting worse, which is just not true (we can just report on things much more and much quicker)
For example, software is not optimised. Our phones need continuous updates.
I’m putting faith in the friendly AI, and hoping that technology will “free us from scarcity and ensure a prosperous lifestyle for everyone, regardless of where they come from”, without losing what it is to be human.
And remember, all major technological advances have brought fear about job losses and impact to our future
The true opportunity of technology is that it extends human capability, and we should be imagining new jobs that could only be done with the help of technology, and new opportunites for growth
We want artifical smartness, not consciuos intelligence. Machines that can do things we can't.
Exponential technology is here. It is happening and unstoppable. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. Embrace it. But respect its potentials and make it work for and with humanity to create a brighter future for us all. The future is something we create.
I agree with what Gerd Leonhard said earlier “we need to spend as much time and investment in the areas of ethics, norms, values and the context as we do on the technology.”¹⁹ Digital ethics needs to be a fundamental aspect of the building blocks of these technologies, and those that create it.
Oh, and that brand new Rembrandt painting we mentioned earlier....