AI News, Man, the humans in this AI artificial intelligence
The future of artificial intelligence
Sitting at his cluttered desk, located near an oft-used ping-pong table and prototypes of drones from his college days suspended overhead, Gyongyosi punches some keys on a laptop to pull up grainy video footage of a forklift driver operating his vehicle in a warehouse.
It was captured from overhead courtesy of a Onetrack.AI “forklift vision system.” Employing machine learning and computer vision for detection and classification of various “safety events,” the shoebox-sized device doesn’t see all, but it sees plenty.
The mere knowledge that one of IFM’s devices is watching, Gyongyosi claims, has had “a huge effect.” “If you think about a camera, it really is the richest sensor available to us today at a very interesting price point,” he says.
Here’s another: Tesla founder and tech titan Elon Musk recently donated $10 million to fund ongoing research at the non-profit research company OpenAI — a mere drop in the proverbial bucket if his $1 billion co-pledge in 2015 is any indication.
This, however, is not: After more than seven decades marked by hoopla and sporadic dormancy during a multi-wave evolutionary period that began with so-called “knowledge engineering,” progressed to model- and algorithm-based machine learning and is increasingly focused on perception, reasoning and generalization, AI has re-taken center stage as never before.
There’s virtually no major industry modern AI — more specifically, “narrow AI,” which performs objective functions using data-trained models and often falls into the categories of deep learning or machine learning — hasn’t already affected.
That’s especially true in the past few years, as data collection and analysis has ramped up considerably thanks to robust IoT connectivity, the proliferation of connected devices and ever-speedier computer processing.
With companies spending nearly $20 billion collective dollars on AI products and services annually, tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon spending billions to create those products and services, universities making AI a more prominent part of their respective curricula (MIT alone is dropping $1 billion on a new college devoted solely to computing, with an AI focus), and the U.S. Department of Defense upping its AI game, big things are bound to happen.
Of the former, he warned: “The bottom 90 percent, especially the bottom 50 percent of the world in terms of income or education, will be badly hurt with job displacement…The simple question to ask is, ‘How routine is a job?’ And that is how likely [it is] a job will be replaced by AI, because AI can, within the routine task, learn to optimize itself.
And the more quantitative, the more objective the job is—separating things into bins, washing dishes, picking fruits and answering customer service calls—those are very much scripted tasks that are repetitive and routine in nature.
In the matter of five, 10 or 15 years, they will be displaced by AI.” In the warehouses of online giant and AI powerhouse Amazon, which buzz with more than 100,000 robots, picking and packing functions are still performed by humans — but that will change.
“One of the absolute prerequisites for AI to be successful in many [areas] is that we invest tremendously in education to retrain people for new jobs,” says Klara Nahrstedt, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and director of the school’s Coordinated Science Laboratory.
In the future, if you don’t know coding, you don’t know programming, it’s only going to get more difficult.” And while many of those who are forced out of jobs by technology will find new ones, Vandegrift says, that won’t happen overnight.
“The transition between jobs going away and new ones [emerging],” Vandegrift says, “is not necessarily as painless as people like to think.” 'In the future, if you don’t know coding, you don’t know programming, it’s only going to get more difficult.” Mike Mendelson, a “learner experience designer” for NVIDIA, is a different kind of educator than Nahrstedt.
While some of these uses, like spam filters or suggested items for online shopping, may seem benign, others can have more serious repercussions and may even pose unprecedented threats to the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression and information (‘freedom of expression’).
Speaking at London’s Westminster Abbey in late November of 2018, internationally renowned AI expert Stuart Russell joked (or not) about his “formal agreement with journalists that I won’t talk to them unless they agree not to put a Terminator robot in the article.” His quip revealed an obvious contempt for Hollywood representations of far-future AI, which tend toward the overwrought and apocalyptic.
Once we have that capability, you could then query all of human knowledge and it would be able to synthesize and integrate and answer questions that no human being has ever been able to answer because they haven't read and been able to put together and join the dots between things that have remained separate throughout history.” That’s a mouthful.
More than a few leading AI figures subscribe (some more hyperbolically than others) to a nightmare scenario that involves what’s known as “singularity,” whereby superintelligent machines take over and permanently alter human existence through enslavement or eradication.
The late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking famously postulated that if AI itself begins designing better AI than human programmers, the result could be “machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails.” Elon Musk believes and has for years warned that AGI is humanity’s biggest existential threat.
“I think that maybe five or ten years from now, I’ll have to reevaluate that statement because we’ll have different methods available and different ways to go about these things.” While murderous machines may well remain fodder for fiction, many believe they’ll supplant humans in various ways.
As MIT physics professors and leading AI researcher Max Tegmark put it in a 2018 TED Talk, “The real threat from AI isn’t malice, like in silly Hollywood movies, but competence — AI accomplishing goals that just aren’t aligned with ours.” That’s Laird’s take, too.
“I think that’s science fiction and not the way it’s going to play out.” What Laird worries most about isn’t evil AI, per se, but “evil humans using AI as a sort of false force multiplier” for things like bank robbery and credit card fraud, among many other crimes.
Referencing the rapid transformational effect of nuclear fission (atom splitting) by British physicist Ernest Rutherford in 1917, he added, “It’s very, very hard to predict when these conceptual breakthroughs are going to happen.” But whenever they do, if they do, he emphasized the importance of preparation.
Man must always have the last word
Sarah Spiekermann: ...that artificial intelligences do not make decisions for us, but only help us to learn more about ourselves, about our world, so that we make better decisions ourselves.
You can try to, but all approaches in this direction are actually very suboptimal compared to human beings as an ethical decision-making system. Where do you see the limits to the use of artificial intelligence?
It starts with Hobbes, who already stated that the human being is wolf to other humans and one can actually see in history that despite humanism our image of man is in principle very questionable.
And we must get away from this bad image of man and learn again that we are social, political animals, as Aristotle said, and that we are trustful beings, that we are highly intelligent, intuitive systems and that we win self-esteem, this appreciation for ourselves.
Spiekermann: Only if we can succeed in building systems that help people know and learn, we can become happier.
And this knowing interaction with the world, for example being able to cook, being able to explain something, these are the things that make us humans happy.
- On Monday, December 9, 2019
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