Artificial Intelligence, in one form or another, is everywhere. We invite it into our homes and feed it on social media. Businesses that have the resources to automate, will. Every sector of the economy utilizes AI in some form.
It is nearly impossible to find an industry that is not looking to AI for improvements. AI is potentially playing a role in semiconductors, industrial applications, military and defense and everything in-between. Manufacturers hope AI will make developing products and innovation easier. Globalspace, September 6, 2019
Advances in AI
Meanwhile, AI keeps advancing in what it can do. An interesting way to observe AI’s recent trajectory is to recall the times when AI competed against human champions and won.
* IBM’s Deep Blue defeated chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997.
Chess kept Deep Blue in the realm of what computers are good at, using statistics and probabilities to determine strategy. (Popular Science, 12/26/12)
* IBM’s Watson defeated two Jeopardy! champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, in 2011.
Jeopardy! … pushed Watson into an unfamiliar world of human language and unstructured data. (Popular Science, 12/26/12)
* DeepMind’s AlphaGo program defeated go world champion Lee Sedol in 2016.
When compared with Deep Blue or with Watson, AlphaGo’s underlying algorithms are potentially more general-purpose… (Wikipedia, AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol)
Ultimate Goal With Unknown Results
Real artificial intelligence is general-purpose. It is artificial general intelligence. AGI has the potential to perform any task that a human being can perform, not just a specialized task such as playing board games. It can teach itself by manipulating massive amounts of data. It can act based upon its own knowledge.
Here is a description of Google’s machine learning tool AutoML-Zero, published in Google AI Blog July 9, 2020:
In our case, a population is initialized with empty programs. It then evolves in repeating cycles to produce better and better learning algorithms. At each cycle, two (or more) random models compete and the most accurate model gets to be a parent. The parent clones itself to produce a child, which gets mutated. That is, the child’s code is modified in a random way, which could mean, for example, arbitrarily inserting, removing or modifying a line in the code. The mutated algorithm is then evaluated on image classification tasks.
When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, George Leigh Mallory responded, “Because it’s there.” Once a goal is envisioned, there is no stopping those who will pursue its attainment, regardless of unknown collateral results. The envisioned goal in AI technology is to spread AI everywhere in ever-advanced forms.
On December 2, 2014, BBC News made headlines with remarks by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawkins and response by Cleverbot creator Rollo Carpenter.
The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race … It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate… Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded. Hawkins
I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realized.… We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it. Carpenter
Recommended Segment of PBS FRONTLINE
In the Age of AI aired on FRONTLINE’s Season 2019, Episode 5, November 5. The program serves as a good overview of what AI is, what it is used for today, what effect is has had in economies, what it has done to privacy and liberty, and where it looks like AI is going.
The program’s framework is the U.S. AlphaGo’s victory over China’s go player Ke Jie, which ignited China’s quest for AI supremacy.
Here are some good take-aways offered by In the Age of AI:
There are three important developments that changed the world – the steam engine, electricity and AI — “everything else is too small.”
In the U.S. automation amplified by AI has sadly caused a lot of white and blue collar workers to lose their jobs. However, developments in technology have always done that. Former elevator operators, telephone operators, and secretaries can attest to that.
AI’s most prominent role has been in personal data gathering. Both private and public sectors depend on some form of AI’s ability to collect massive amounts of data and use it to indicate individuals’ preferences, habits, routines, etc.
China’s advances in AI have been astounding. China sees benefit in having become a surveillance state where people’s routines are in a vast database that can be used to quickly process loans or quickly scoop disruptors for purposes of re-education. The regime’s Belt and Road Initiative invests in and builds infrastructure all over the world. Included in the developments, are China’s ubiquitous surveillance cameras.
AI is the ultimate tool of wealth creation. The push for advancing AI results in aid to capital and neglect of labor, causing inequality to grow. It used to be that wages rose with productivity, but with the advent of automation, especially that augmented by AI, productivity and wages decoupled. It won’t be long before there is real clamor for distribution of wealth created by capital.
You and AI
Whether you embrace or fear artificial intelligence, AI is here to stay. In the short run you will benefit from augmented diagnostic techniques or harmed by loss of a job. In the long run your place in the universe – to your advantage or not — might be determined by a machine.
(Featured picture: Ke Jie playing AlphaGo, NPR, Google A.I. Clinches Series Against Humanity’s Last, Best Hope To Win At Go, May 25, 2017)