Artificial intelligence is coming – so how’s it going to change our reality?
In March of this year, Google’s artificial intelligence, AlphaGo, beat one of the top human intelligences, Lee Sedol, at the strategically mind-boggling board game Go.
Experts had thought we were years away, but the computer played elegant, creative moves to outfox a Go master. So are we on the brink of an AI revolution? I asked Dr Peter Bentley, a computer scientist from University College London, for some expert insight:
Peter Bentley, a computer scientist at University College London, says “since the beginning of artificial intelligence research, one of the main ways that we have tested the intelligence of our computers is to ask them to play games with us, and the progression towards the recent victory has been a long one. But in all of these cases playing games is a hugely simple task.”
In a game there’s a clear ‘winning’ outcome and it’s a closed environment, so the spectrum of possibilities can be accurately predicted. A Go stone will not suddenly turn into a chess piece, for example, or a sausage. Google wants to transfer AlphaGo to real world situations, like medicine. So how does an AI brought up on boardgames hold up in the real world?
“It’s a very pure clean simple problem, playing a game. The rules are precise, there is no fuzziness, you either are allowed to do that or you are not allowed to do it, and actually real intelligence is completely nothing to do with precision. Real intelligence is about surviving in a horrible, complicated, messy world that’s trying to kill you, that’s what intelligence is for! That’s why organisms have intelligence – to survive! So playing a computer game is a neat trick,” says Bentley.
Bentley also states, “one of the things that’s coming through now is an increasing use of computers to do creative things, that’s computers composing music, creating artwork, doing exotic special effects in movies – all sorts of really unusual things that we might not think of but a computer does think of it – for a long time there’s been a long debate what is creativity? Could a computer ever be creative? And the news is yes it can be. Not only can it be creative, it can do things that really amaze us and make us think, holy crap I wish I’d thought of that.”
Artificial intelligence will change our lives. Already AlphaGo’s first victim says he’s learned to play better by playing against the machine. Imagine what we will learn as AI is unleashed onto our world.