Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Stephen Hawking's Warning on AI

Prof Stephen Hawking (left), one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists has declared that artificial intelligence can indeed, pose a threat to our very existence. He is suggesting that thinking machines could spell the end of the human race.
His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.
The theoretical physicist, who has the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is using a new system developed by Intel to speak.

Machine learning experts from the British company Swiftkey were also involved in its creation. Their technology, already employed as a smartphone keyboard app, learns how the professor thinks and suggests the words he might want to use next.
Prof Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."
But others are less pessimistic.
"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," said Rollo Carpenter, Cleverbot’s creator.

Cleverbot's software learns from its past conversations, and has gained high scores in the Turing test, fooling a high proportion of people into believing they are talking to a human.

Carpenter says we are a long way from having the computing power or developing the algorithms needed to achieve full artificial intelligence, but believes it may come in the next few decades.
"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," he says.
But he is betting that AI is going to be a positive force.
The sci-fi movies we see today on AI are not merely somebody stretching his or her imagination to show us tomorrow’s world. They are not purely fictional; in their own way, they provide glimpses of our future world. A world that is as exciting as it is scary.

Cleverbot is software that is designed to chat like a human would. Image credit: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540
On Saturday, the MIM Toastmasters Club of Kuala Lumpur had their regular bi-monthly session and I was there to deliver a speech. It was from the Storytelling manual and my speech title was “A Bride’s Dowry”. The speech was just okay (meaning, it could be better) but at least, it was a good meeting.


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