Artificial Intelligence

Neural networks, machine learning, artificial intelligens

25. November 2017

Terminator and Skynet are some of the first things most people think of when they hear the word artificial intelligence or AI. This movie was one of the first to popularise the idea of artificial intelligence in the general public minds – but for all the wrong reasons. People often take notice of what they are afraid of and Terminator paints a dystopian future where artificial intelligence rebel against us; I don’t think that is going to happen, and I think it’s a shame that people are afraid of the development. I don’t share the opinion of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk whom (among other promienent figures) both believe in a doomsday scenario.


Why I love artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is an incredibly cool sci-fi idea to me, yet it is starting to become a reality of everyday life. Who hasn’t tried Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana?…Just kidding, no one uses Cortana. I use Google Assistant on my phone all the time – most times it’s just to set a timer, start music in my living room, or turn on or off my lights. All of these tasks don’t require much from the phone, other than understanding my language and transcribing the spoken words into written words (which is also an impressive task, don’t get me wrong).


Feature of Google Assistant integration in Google Analytics
I open up Google Analytics, hit the “Assistant” button at the top right and asks a question.
Feature of Google Assistant integration in Google Analytics
Google Assistant and Analytics now give me an exact answer to my question – no noise, no hassle, nothing but exactly what I wanted to know.














Where I was really impressed for the first time, was the latest (as of November 25th, 2017) update to Google Analytics. It prompted me to ask a question, so I asked it what the most visited subpage was – and without hesitating, it showed a list of the 10 most visited pages. I then asked where I get most of my visitors from – and again, no hesitation, no “sorry, did you mean…”, nothing but exactly what I asked for; a list of the sources that give me the most visitors. I was (and still am) very impressed by the way it contextualizes understand what I want and what I mean. This is where artificial intelligence shines!

Digital assistants are not something that I see as a general consumer product anytime soon. It’s cool to be able to ask questions like “Whats the population os Zimbabwe” and “Turn the TV on” but sometimes it can be more clunky than it is useful, but asking what age group my site is attracting, is something that I would ask another person, but now Assistant gives me the same result faster than any human could.


Outside the home

Where most of the people will interact with artificial intelligence for the first time, I believe will be in traffic. Tesla, Google, Apple – all working on self-driving tech and will most likely have cars and buses on the road in 10 years time. When entering a car with no driver, you have to trust the onboard computer to know what it’s doing and at that time, people will have to face artificial intelligence whether they like it or not.


Why I don’t believe in a doomsday scenario

Artificial intelligence like Google Assistant and Siri are both dumb – really, really dumb. They might seem intelligent, but they really aren’t. Humans are intelligent and self-aware, machines are purely logical. Somehow our minds, our brains, our inner workings are so unique that even the most powerful supercomputer hasn’t been able to replicate it yet. I don’t think consciousness can be replicated by the way our machines work today. I believe that there is some fundamental idea about consciousness that we haven’t grasped yet – be it quantum mechanics in the synapses, extra dimensions, or something else entirely (just read about the 11th dimensions that are hypothesized to help the brain work).

I don’t fear machine learning and artificial intelligence, I think we should embrace it and see it as the next giant leap in computers. Either way, AIs aren’t about to go away, they are here to stay, so we might as well make the best out of it.


What we should be worried about

Earlier this month, the UN sat down to discuss AI in weapons. Sadly, all they agreed upon was that they should agree on something at a later time…That’s politics for you. I do think that making AI be the decider between killing or not killing is an ethical wrongdoing. I’m against the idea of war drones in the first place, as it makes killing just as easy as a video game (or maybe not AS easy, but it blurs the line). Having an AI fly the drone and decide when to pull the trigger just makes going into war that much easier since you don’t have to fear a loss of soldiers on your side – the one thing that may have been the reason NOT to go to war.

In this example, it’s not the AI itself that dangerous, it how it’s used. In that regard, I do think that we should be worried. I don’t think AI should be banned because it CAN be used for evil; if we go by that logic, then the internet shouldn’t be oporational because terrorists can use it to exchange information and plan attacks. Almost everything can be used for evil, but I don’t think that should be a reason for not developing. I my opinion, this way of thinking is extremely old fashioned and reminds me of the dark middle ages where progress was seen as non-godly.

What do you think? Do you agree, or completely disagree? Are you worried?


Update 25/11/2017: 

I’ve stumbled upon new research about consciousness and that a new theory hypothesize that the consious thoughts and emotions are due to an underlying, unconscious process. It’s a very interesting read, and may lead to new ways of developing artificial intelligence. Read the article What if consciousness is not what drives the human mind? by  David A Oakley and Peter Halligan.