How machines think

Technological advances make you wonder: is this the start of a new world ruled by intelligent machines? Is there such thing as artificial intelligence?

How machines think Norbert Biedrzycki

Technological advances make you wonder: is this the start of a new world ruled by intelligent machines? Is there such thing as artificial intelligence?

The development of artificial intelligence in robotics is not as unlikely as you might think. A growing number of technologies enable machines to observe and comprehend the environment in which they operate and choose the best course of action towards their assigned goal. This is as true for unsophisticated automated machines that perform simple repetitive tasks as it is for advanced machines, such as autonomous vehicles. Even today, the autonomy of military drones has reached a point where their ground-based pilots sitting in some shipping container thousands of kilometers away need only jump in in the kinds of emergencies that their designers or neural networks have not yet anticipated. Reportedly, these only amount to 2-5% of unforeseen events. Without a doubt, man is still indispensible for making the final call to drop a bomb or authorize an air strike.

Recently, the computer program DeepMind developed by Google beat the world’s best player at the game of Go, whose complexity far exceeds that of chess. The human player only managed to win a single game – the computer defeated him scoring 4 to 1 in the overall match. A device programmed and taught to perform a massive number of Go move combinations nevertheless falls short of true intelligence. Its success relies on a combination of an enormous volume of data and incredible processing power. Today’s artificial intelligence is downright incapable of creative thinking.

Nonetheless, even today, a combination of huge processing power and dreadfully large databases open up a wealth of possibilities, such as weather forecasting. Millions of sensors around the world gather data on current weather conditions on land, at sea and in the air. Such data as well as the historic weather models recorded in a database are then used by artificial intelligence to forecast the future. Is this really forecasting though? No, it is not. The system only matches known past weather patterns with current weather conditions and any observed trends. To that end, the system makes use of highly complex mathematical models, which allow it to assume that specific weather events are highly probable. Is this intelligence? Not quite, it is more of a mix of math and historic data backed with processing power. Similar examples abound: chain reaction simulations, power grid and telecom network maintenance, societal behavior forecasting and the spread of epidemics in specified areas, to name a few.

A change is inevitable as humans are unlikely to stop perfecting artificial intelligence. For the time being though, AI is only a technology that man uses and that follows man’s orders. It is also up to man to put up boundaries and barriers to keep our creations from turning against us, humans.

 

Originally published at Business Insider (in Polish)

 

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13 comments

  1. John McLean

    Acomplishments of expert systems and in the field of AI are increadible. The credit must go to the scientists and engineers who design them. By the same token, to whom should we give credit for the real intelligence of the human mind? God?

  2. CabbH

    The idea of AI is fascinating, but what is the ultimate point? If a conscious, intelligent entity is created what will its function be other than to be able to say ‘we did it’?
    If an entity acquires consciousness will it not also acquire rights? Will turning it off be murder?
    Having a machine which can convince a human that it is not a machine might be useful to replace people in call centres (and swell the ranks of the unemployed) but could it ultimately have free will? What/who would give it its moral compass?

    • Norbert Biedrzycki  

      We, humans. By proper learning process, forced algorithm design, statistical modeling …

  3. Don Fisher

    AI is a scary prospect. Humans might eventually become comfortable sharing the world with AI which helping us to diagnose disease, to cure disease, alleviate poverty and clean up the environment. I’m personally optimistic, but that doesn’t mean we should be lulled in to a lack of concern. I think this concern will die finally as we see more and more positive benefits of AI and gain more confidence with it. We’ll realize consciousness, free will does not require a biological substrate. Finally

    • Norbert Biedrzycki  

      It migh be simpy next step in our evolution as a human beeings. Im sci-fi fan. Right. But some predictions are tempting. Immortality?

  4. TomCat

    Currently Artificial intelligence is like a child, and much of what we believe to be “human nature” is collectively handed down. Children of good homes end up as pretty decent humans. Child soldiers end up, as well terribly abused human beings with a high chance of abusing others. Hopefully the military isn’t the only ones raising up AI “children”. Any parent can tell children cannot be controlled for very long. And as for uploading human consciousness to a computer is like making a copy of a copy of a copy with a terrible photocopier. There is nothing better thann the original.

  5. TonyHor

    ‘Machines are not capable of thinking’ , states that it may be possible in the future. But in the future. Machines have to become more advanced, and since as a species humans are continuing to evolve technology and machines, they will inevitably be more advanced. Also google Artificial Intelligence making games, and drawing cats without any prior knowledge.

    • Norbert Biedrzycki  

      There is a long way to go. Still. Running even the most complicated calculations and data analysis or even creating movie trailers is not the same as the ability as creating something new without prior input. Humans are able to do it because creativity, inspirations, emotions. Brain as organ is one think but let’s not forget about mind, conciseness and soul…

  6. TommyG

    AI is an inevitable and dramatic in human evolution, which will bring among other things designer babies with higher intellectual capabilities. But evolution is inevitable. The global market driven economy will be the primary driving force. AI revolution will offer incredible profit opportunities as human life is improved near term. But there will be other driving forces notably military.

    • Norbert Biedrzycki  

      Unfortunately most of technological inventions were developed at military, or with cooperation with military. War drives our civilization. Sadly

  7. johnbuzz3

    You might enjoy: http://on.ted.com/a0hZU . It’s a TED Talk about a guy which has made programs intelligent. Something that will most likely play a big role towards Artificial Intelligence. But how will AI help humanity? What really is intelligence?

    • Don Fisher

      In a 2010 essay, Kurzweil reviewed 147 predictions he made in his 1999 book “The Age of Spiritual Machines”. See some of them:
      – The rise of portable computing.
      – The availability of wearable computing.
      – The removal of keyboards from portable devices.
      – Cables disappearing in favour of wireless technology.
      – Computer displays built into eyeglasses.
      – The distribution of media such as books, music, and movies in an entirely digital form.

      So far he was right

      • Norbert Biedrzycki  

        And keep this in mind that it goes from year of 1999 !!!