"Robots will reach human intelligence by 2029 and life as we know it will end in 2045".
This isn’t just any random prediction, it was made by Google's Chief of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil.
After the announcement last week where we heard of Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, who unveiled, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three days - there is more and more evidence stacking up behind this claim.
Even more proof was the AI's success. It managed to beat the human champion of an ancient Chinese board-game, not once, but 100 times over.
“It’s more powerful than previous approaches because by not using human data, or human expertise in any fashion, we’ve removed the constraints of human knowledge and it is able to create knowledge itself” said David Silver, AlphaGo’s lead researcher.
So, perhaps it's best to look optimistically at the future from where we are now. AI's that match humans at a huge range of tasks remain a long way off, but let's keep a close eye on what's happening in the world of AI and look more positively into the uses of AI to help humans discover new medications and materials, and benefits to our society as we know it today.
“For us, AlphaGo wasn’t just about winning the game of Go,” said Demis Hassabis, CEO of DeepMind and a researcher on the team. “It was also a big step for us towards building these general-purpose algorithms.” Most AIs are described as “narrow” because they perform only a single task, such as translating languages or recognising faces, but general-purpose AIs could potentially outperform humans at many different tasks. In the next decade, Hassabis believes that AlphaGo’s descendants will work alongside humans as scientific and medical experts.