Why Artificial Intelligence Isn’t Very Intelligent

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terminator-2-half-faceArtificial Intelligence (AI) has constant news coverage today and global thinkers like Elon Musk and Bill Gates warn of a dangerous future.  A dystopian world run by robots and computers powered by AI not unlike that shown in the Hollywood blockbuster Terminator 2 is one that could come to pass, but it is highly unlikely to occur in your children’s lifetime.

The original title of this article was “What’s In A Name?  Change Algorithm to Artificial Intelligence & You Have your Answer.” and that about sums up the point.  It is unfair to say that there have not been massive improvements in the amazing field of AI, it is simply that AI is now used as a marketing term for everything from Harley Davidson to McAfee AntiVirus.

deep-learning-letter-aWhen you hear the words Artificial Intelligence you likely think of some god like computer system that has used big data to figure out the world.  In fact, most AI today is little more than brilliant algorithms that can do amazing single tasks and that is not likely to change in the near or even mid-term.

Deep Learning is the most interesting AI and receives most of the hype right now.  In simplified terms, Deep Learning systems provide a computer with a vast numbers of examples to learn from, which enables it to recognize something it has never seen before using pattern recognition.  To be sure, this very impressive and very powerful, but intelligent… nope.

Don’t take our word for it.  Watch how “The Oracle of AI” Kai Fu Lee explains that the artificial intelligence (intentionally lower case) you hear about in the media should not be confused with Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) in a new 60 Minutes:

AI-lara-walmartThis week BBC’s globally significant technology show ‘Click’ spent their entire show explaining the wonders of modern AI driven robotics with specific attention to what is in the marketplace today.  They showed autonomous machines that scan store shelves for inventory, clean the floor, greet new customers and ones that monitor your actions so that you can just walk into a store and buy anything you want without ever spending time in a cashier line.

Just because it is highly unlikely that AI driven machines will combine into super ‘smart’ almost sentient beings in the next 50 to 100 years doesn’t mean what we today call AI will not result in meaningful disruption…. it will.  The immediate future with AI driven machines will be problematic, especially so for the males of our species.

AI driven systems will displace primarily male dominated jobs, and in vast numbers.  If you move things or drive with any sort of routine (think warehouse workers, cleaners, couriers and truck drivers) you will find AI to be a challenge your financial existence.

The power of exponential growth may bring about some dystonian AGI overlords or even a singularity sooner than predicted so there are serious ethical issues and legal precedents we need to give serious consideration to today while we still have full control.  However, for the foreseeable future AI is about single task, routine work that humans are not keen to perform.  Unfortunately, there are tens of millions of people in those jobs today that will be looking for work tomorrow thanks to AI.

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