AI News, Shape Created with Sketch. In pictures: Artificial intelligence through history

Shape Created with Sketch. In pictures: Artificial intelligence through history

Artificial intelligence is driving a “technology renaissance” but its evolution could lead to doomsday scenarios seen in science fiction, according to one of the co-founders of Google.

“In this sense, we are truly in a technology renaissance, an exciting time where we can see applications across nearly every segment of modern society.” Mr Brin referenced Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in his letter, quoting the famous opening: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The Russian-born billionaire related this to the paradoxical nature of AI, saying that the technology’s potential for good is offset by the harm that its development could bring.

Most notably, safety spans a wide range of concerns from the fears of sci-fi style sentience to the more near-term questions such as validating the performance of self-driving cars.” AI experts have warned of Alphabet’s development of artificial intelligence, which is spearheaded by its London-based subsidiary DeepMind.

Google Cofounder Sergey Brin Warns of AI's Dark Side

But this year Brin expounds at length on a recent boom in development in AI that he describes as a “renaissance.” “The new spring in artificial intelligence is the most significant development in computing in my lifetime,” Brin writes—no small statement from a man whose company has already wrought great changes in how people and businesses use computers.

When Google was founded in 1998, Brin writes, the machine learning technique known as artificial neural networks, invented in the 1940s and loosely inspired by studies of the brain, was “a forgotten footnote in computer science.” Today the method is the engine of the recent surge in excitement and investment around artificial intelligence.

The letter unspools a partial list of where Alphabet uses neural networks, for tasks such as enabling self-driving cars to recognize objects, translating languages, adding captions to YouTube videos, diagnosing eye disease, and even creating better neural networks.

In a flash of math humor, he says that Google’s quantum computing chips might one day offer jumps in speed over existing computers that can be only be described with the number that gave Google its name, a googol, or a 1 followed by 100 zeroes.

Google’s Sergey Brin warns of the threat from AI in today’s ‘technology renaissance’

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has warned that the current boom in artificial intelligence has created a “technology renaissance” that contains many potential threats.

“Every month, there are stunning new applications and transformative new techniques.” But, he adds, “such powerful tools also bring with them new questions and responsibilities.” Brin starts his letter by quoting the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” He notes how computing power has exploded since Google was founded in 1998, and how, at that time, the technique which now forms the backbone of contemporary AI, neural networks, was just “a forgotten footnote in computer science.” The revolution in machine learning in the past decade has changed that, and Brin lists some of the many ways AI is used to power Alphabet services and companies.

But, he says, AI poses a number of problems too, “from the fears of sci-fi style sentience to the more near-term questions such as validating the performance of self-driving cars.” Brin says Alphabet is giving “serious thought” to a number of these issues, including how AI will affect employment;

Google Billionaire Sergey Brin Urges Caution On AI Development

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,

Google is using it, for example, to: 'Technology Renaissance' Brin,who is president of Google parent company Alphabet today, goes on to say we are 'truly in a technology renaissance' but hewarns that 'powerful tools also bring with them new questions and responsibilities.'

In a bid to reassure readers, Brin says there is serious thought and research going on atAlphabet and elsewhere into all of the issues he raises, with people looking into everything from 'sci-fi style sentience to the more near-term questions such as validating the performance of self-driving cars.'

He adds: 'While I am optimistic about the potential to bring technology to bear on the greatest problems in the world, we are on a path that we must tread with deep responsibility, care, and humility.'

Google’s Sergey Brin flags concerns over AI ‘revolution’

Google co-founder Sergey Brin says the revolution in artificial intelligence and other technological developments have brought “new questions and responsibilities”, in an unusually sober annual letter to shareholders in Alphabet, the umbrella organisation.  Mr Brin’s attempt at “humility” comes as politicians and regulators around the world grapple with the increasing size and influence of Silicon Valley companies such as Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.  Several of the world’s largest tech companies this week reported blockbuster financial results despite mounting concerns in an increasingly hostile political climate over privacy, allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, and the potential impact of AI on human employment.  Mr Brin quoted the introduction to Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” — to describe the current era of “great inspiration” that also needs “tremendous thoughtfulness and responsibility” as Silicon Valley’s ambitions reach deeper into society.  He wrote in Friday’s letter: “Technology companies have historically been wide-eyed and idealistic about the opportunities that their innovations create.

Are they safe?” Mr Brin sought to reassure that the company was giving “serious thought” to such issues, ranging from the safety of self-driving cars to “fears of sci-fi style sentience” of computers.  “While I am optimistic about the potential to bring technology to bear on the greatest problems in the world, we are on a path that we must tread with deep responsibility, care, and humility,” he concluded.  Despite the humble words there are few signs that the Google founders’ ambitions have been reined in, as they invest their personal fortunes in novel forms of aircraft.  Mr Page has invested in Kitty Hawk, a Silicon Valley-based start-up that is developing an autonomous aerial taxi.

The Great A.I. Awakening

The ones that got “cat” right get their votes counted double next time — at least when they’re voting for “cat.” They have to prove independently whether they’re also good at picking out dogs and defibrillators, but one thing that makes a neural network so flexible is that each individual unit can contribute differently to different desired outcomes.

The neural network just needs to register enough of a regularly discernible signal somewhere to say, “Odds are, this particular arrangement of pixels represents something these humans keep calling ‘cats.’ ” The more “voters” you have, and the more times you make them vote, the more keenly the network can register even very weak signals.

The neuronal “voters” will recognize a happy cat dozing in the sun and an angry cat glaring out from the shadows of an untidy litter box, as long as they have been exposed to millions of diverse cat scenes.

You just need lots and lots of the voters — in order to make sure that some part of your network picks up on even very weak regularities, on Scottish Folds with droopy ears, for example — and enough labeled data to make sure your network has seen the widest possible variance in phenomena.

If a machine was asked to identify creditworthy candidates for loans, it might use data like felony convictions, but if felony convictions were unfair in the first place — if they were based on, say, discriminatory drug laws — then the loan recommendations would perforce also be fallible.

What the cat paper demonstrated was that a neural network with more than a billion “synaptic” connections — a hundred times larger than any publicized neural network to that point, yet still many orders of magnitude smaller than our brains — could observe raw, unlabeled data and pick out for itself a high-order human concept.

(The researchers discovered this with the neural-network equivalent of something like an M.R.I., which showed them that a ghostly cat face caused the artificial neurons to “vote” with the greatest collective enthusiasm.) Most machine learning to that point had been limited by the quantities of labeled data.

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