AI R&D is booming, but general intelligence is still out of reach
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All this is impressive, but one big caveat applies: no matter how fast AI improves, it’s never going to match the achievements accorded to it by pop culture and hyped headlines. This may seem pedantic or even obvious, but it’s worth remembering that, while the world of artificial intelligence is booming, AI itself is still limited in some important ways.
The best demonstration of this comes from a timeline of “human-level performance milestones” featured in the AI Index report; a history of moments when AI has matched or surpassed human-level expertise.
The timeline starts in the 1990s when programs first beat humans at checkers and chess, and accelerates with the recent machine learning boom, listing video games and board games where AI has came, saw, and conquered (Go in 2016, Dota 2 in 2018, etc.). This is mixed with miscellaneous tasks like human-level classification of skin cancer images in 2017 and in Chinese to English translation in 2018. (Many experts would take issue with that last achievement being included at all, and note that AI translation is still way behind humans.)
For a start, the majority of these milestones come from defeating humans in video games and board games — domains that, because of their clear rules and easy simulation, are particularly amenable to AI training. Such training usually relies on AI agents sinking many lifetimes’ worth of work into a single game, training hundreds of years in a solar day: a fact that highlights how quickly humans learn compared to computers.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
December 14, 2019 at 11:00 AM #238382djean111Participant
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My grandson and I argue about AI – I maintain AI will always be code and decision trees, not sentience. With apologies to Robin Williams’ Bicentennial Man. He thinks AI will achieve sentience.
My example – AI can tell you the temperature of something – too hot, too cold, just right, with built-in temperature sensors. But AI will never actually FEEL hot or cold, just measure it, and compare the result to a table or whatever that assigns “hot” or “cold” and variations based on the numbers recorded as the temperature. Or calibrated like a thermostat in a car engine. So if the temperature sensors malfunction, there is a problem, whereas a human can just feel if something is hot or cold, like bathwater or baby formula, with a quick touch. Yes, I know temperature controls are wondrously sophisticated, unless they malfunction or the batteries wear out or the electricity is cut off. Sentience is not mechanical.
December 14, 2019 at 3:03 PM #238445ThouArtThatParticipant
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Food for thought – intelligence or not.
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December 14, 2019 at 3:10 PM #238449David the GnomeParticipant
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If you want to see something really cool – potentially with a greater impact than current AI, check out quantum computing. A lot of it is extremely confusing – but it is basically going from analog to digital – even way, uhm, bigger, in terms of computing power. The potential is amazing.
December 14, 2019 at 3:32 PM #238450NV WinoModerator
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The article describes AI as single use tools, which is true. But I don’t think that is a detrimental description. I mean think of all the “single use tools” in the medical profession. You got your oncologist, your ENT, your urologist, your gynecologist, your… well you get the idea.
And, no, they aren’t sentient, but they can mimic sentience. And that mimicry is bound improve over the years to the point it will be indistinguishable from sentience. If robots can detect temperature, you just know someone is going to add code that tells the AI when the water reaches a certain temperature, it should jerk its little robotic finger out and say ouch.
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