Will our smartphones be more intelligent than us?

A somewhat alarmist article appeared in The Canberra Times yesterday (April 26th 2015). This particular excerpt is quite speculative:

Within seven years – about when the iPhone 11 is likely to be released – the smartphones in our pockets will be as computationally intelligent as we are. It doesn’t stop there, though. These devices will continue to advance, exponentially, until they exceed the combined intelligence of the human race.

The analogy here though is quite flawed. An iPhone (indeed, any mobile phone) is simply mobile computer hardware. It is the software that makes it actually do things, such as making calls, surfing the internet and running applications.

So although the phone may have a large amount of computational power, it will be advances in software that will largely determine how it behaves running AI software.

Today’s research is focused on building smart algorithms that solve specific problems, not into building generally intelligent machines. As a result, the futuristic iPhone is more likely to have dozens of AIs rather than a single one, each AI very good at one thing, but completely clueless at others.

Of course, this also depends on rapid advances in battery technology. Otherwise the phone may die before the AI gets to “Hello”.

via The coming problem of smartphones being more intelligent than us.


Are You Afraid of the Singularity?

Path of the Beagle

I was amazed to read this week that Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Tesla inventor Elon Musk are all afraid that artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to the human race. Musk’s warning was the most colorful:

With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out.

Bill Gates chimes in:

I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.

They are worried that artificial intelligence (AI) will advance until AI machines are able to improve their own designs, and build even smarter, more-capable machines, which will be smart enough to build even better ones, and so on. Although biological evolution has taken billions of years to produce humans, the AI stage of evolution will…

View original post 373 more words

The Artificial Intelligence “Menace”

There has been a flurry of comment recently related to the supposed growing menace of Artificial Intelligence.

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and most recently, Steve Wozniak have all sounded warnings about computers taking over and artificial intelligences plotting to get rid of us.

What’s caused the sudden volume of opinion on this? Perhaps it is the apparent success of highly visible projects like Google’s self driving cars promising reduced risk transport? After all, if an Artificial Intelligence is capable of driving itself around, how long before it can do other things that traditionally would need human level intelligence?

Viewpoints like these are good for generating lots of comment, but the reality is somewhat more mundane. The AI in Google’s car isn’t a single entity but is rather a collection of different techniques and algorithms. As such, it doesn’t behave like a general intelligence, but is specific to that domain. This has been the case for as long as researchers have been looking at AI: it’s brittle.

Nevertheless, AI techniques are indeed spreading into new spheres of life all the time. So the societal impact will be profound. But can we please discuss this without resorting to fear and hyperbole.

Have a look at the videos on IGN and judge for yourself.