Human intelligence has yet to be matched, Skynet isn’t taking over and the plot from Ex Machina is a scary but an unlikely scenario. The truth is, artificial intelligence isn’t there yet & we don’t know for certain if it ever will be. What I do know, is that weak artificial intelligence is all around us and it is learning, fast.
The best way to describe the current state of artificial intelligence is to compare it to a 2 year old boy, opening his eyes to a glimpse of the world around him. Recognising and labelling objects, spewing barely understandable gibberish before falling promptly back to sleep to forget about everything he observed.
Whilst this sounds vaguely pathetic, it highlights the on/off nature of AI at the moment and a type of intelligence that researchers call “weak AI“.
Having said that, lets take a look at what AI can do right now…
Weak AI: Artificial intelligence that is focused on one narrow task
Very few people actually know that Google is an artificial intelligence company. Their very first search engine was extremely basic compared to now but nevertheless, its an AI that responds to your queries. Whilst they’ve come a long way, adding multiple features like medical search, google maps (route planning) and image search, they still have a long way to go before outgrowing the weak AI label.
Fun fact: no human actually fully understands how google search works.
Other examples of weak AI’s include self driving cars built by Tesla which make use of sensors on the car feeding in information to a mini brain specialised in detecting objects and manoeuvring around them. Amazon’s product recommendation which is one of, if not the most advanced e-commerce recommendation system out there; amazon are so confident in their AI that they’ve patented “anticipatory delivery” which is essentially Amazon shipping you products before you buy them.
That probably challenges Facebook’s “people you may know” feature in creepiness, which uses all the information you hand over to Facebook to find people in your vicinity who you may have run into that one time at the supermarket but never exchanged contact details with.
Nevertheless, I’d say the single most impressive achievement goes to the specialised AIs that are now reining world champions in Go, Chess, Checkers, Scrabble & Backgammon. A fun but scary fact is that there is now no board game in the world where a human is the world champion, the AIs have taken over…
which begs the question where is AI going & should I be worried its going to take over more than my chess game?