Is the rise of artificial intelligence anything to be worried about?
In March a computer program called AlphaGo, owned by Google DeepMind, beat a professional player in the ancient Chinese board game of Go (see below). In doing so, Google has set the precedent for what AI is capable of. It showed that a computer can understand not just logic, but also a version of what we would call instinct.
What is Go?
Go has been around for over 2,500 years, and the rules are fairly straightforward. Players take turns to place black and white stones on a square board, in attempt to ‘capture’ more territory. The challenge comes with trying to recapture your opponent’s territory by surrounding their stones.
Given the size of the board and the number of possible moves, the game of Go is over a googol (1 with 100 zeros after it - and yes that's where Google got its name) times more complex than chess.
The next most sensible application for AI has got to be with the advancement of smartphone assistants. Over the past few years, the likes of Siri, Cortana, and Google Now have come on leaps and bounds, but the future is still unwritten.
DeepMind founder, Demis Hassabis, is under the impression that we’ll begin to see smartphone assistants taking hold of the new age of AI technology sooner rather than later.
"I mean, it’ll be quite subtle to begin with, certain aspects will just work better. Maybe looking four to five, five-plus years away you’ll start seeing a big step change in capabilities. I just think we would like these smartphone assistant things to actually be smart and contextual and have a deeper understanding of what you’re trying to do” comments Hassabis.
“At the moment most of these systems are extremely brittle — once you go off the templates that have been pre-programmed then they’re pretty useless. So it’s about making that actually adaptable and flexible and more robust."
So, the future’s bright. And with the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo, the evolution of virtual assistants is only going to get better and more accessible.
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