Thursday, November 23, 2017

When can we expect a strong artificial intelligence?

Ramón López de Mántaras
It has been said that man is the only animal that stumbles twice on the same stone. In other words, it is difficult to learn from history (especially when history is not taught) and it is difficult to learn from our own mistakes. This is happening in relation to the field of Artificial Intelligence. In the previous article I mentioned that the creators of the name of this discipline predicted that in 10 years spectacular results would be obtained. Twenty years later, something similar happened when expert systems were invented. In 1990, Ray Kurzweil predicted in his book The Age of Intelligent Machines that strong artificial intelligence would come by the year 2000. In 1999, when he saw that this prediction was not going to be fulfilled, he moved it to 2010 in his new book The age of spiritual machines. As this prediction was not fulfilled either, between 2009 and 2014 he delayed it until 2029. It seems that now he is making less optimistic predictions in this field, and more about immortality, as I mentioned in another article.
Lately the media are announcing the coming of strong artificial intelligence, the real one, in just three years, or at most ten. What do the true experts say about this, those who are doing research on Artificial Intelligence? Let us look at the opinion of Ramón López de Mántaras, director of the Institute for Research in Artificial Intelligence (IIIA, of the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research, CSIC). He has received the Donald E. Walker Award for Artificial Intelligence in 2017; the EurAI Distinguished Service Award in 2016; the Spanish National Computing Award in 2012; and the Robert S. Engelmore Award from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) in 2011. This is what he thinks about all these announcements:
Artificial intelligence guru Raymond Kurzweil has predicted that in 2029 a computer will first pass the Turing test, designed to discover whether a machine is intelligent. From that moment, in theory, it would not be possible to distinguish a human from a robot. López de Mántaras is not so optimistic.
The other side, general artificial intelligence, seeks to develop artificial intelligences that have [the] versatility and general ability to know many things. This does not mean that their intelligence must be similar to human intelligence; that’s the mistake of some of these approaches. In fact, this is impossible, in my opinion. However sophisticated artificial intelligences may be in the future, in 100,000 or 200,000 years, they will still be different from human intelligences.
In Artificial Intelligence there are many advances, but not as many as the media give to understand. Basically we have software capable of solving complex problems that require perception, but there are several examples that show its deficiencies.
Ray Kurzweil
In a debate organized in 2017 by the Biocat Foundation in Barcelona, ​​several experts on Artificial Intelligence recommended caution, because there are many obstacles to overcome, especially the problem of common sense: all those things that we know about the world, but that the machines don’t know. I’ll give a few examples:
  1. If a piece of chalk is split in two, the result is two pieces of chalk; but if you split a table in two, you won’t get two tables.
  2. To eat you must be awake.
  3. You cannot remember the future.
In a study conducted in 2017 by the Universities of Yale and Oxford among 352 experts in Artificial Intelligence, the average response to the following question: when will machines do all our tasks better than we do? was 2140. Speaking about this, López de Mántaras made this comment: Beyond 10 or 15 years, there is no serious basis, scientifically speaking, to predict anything. In any case, it is clear that the experts are much less optimistic than the media.

Another day we’ll speak about the Turing test.

Manuel Alfonseca

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