Should we be worried?
It was only a couple of years ago when the majority of industry professionals believed that we were still decades away from seeing a computer win at a high level playing the ancient Chinese game GO, but for two straight days now AlphaGO has beaten ten time GO world champion Lee Sedol. Demis Hassabis, CEO of Googles DeepMind Technologies and developer of AlphaGO stated in his twitter feed that AlphaGO used some “creative moves”. Also on Twitter the Go master says he was stunned by some of AlphaGO’s moves. “It placed the stones in such unconventional places.”
So why GO and not Chess?
Simply, computers have been playing chess and beating masters for many years, but the game of Go long remained unbeaten at anything other than a basic level. Go is widely held as a far more complex game than chess with the possible moves reportedly numbering more than the number of atoms in the universe. Chess is an almost entirely left brain analytical game whereas GO uses both left brain analytic as well as right brain artistic and pattern recognition.
Stepping toward Singularity?
Well Billionaire Elon Musk Founder of SpacEx and co Founder of Tesla seems to think we may be. Alonside some of Silicon Valleys big hitters he has formed OpenAI not to see a return on his $10 million investment but “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.” He believes that by opening up the field of AI to everyone they will “counteract large corporations who may gain too much power by owning super-intelligence systems devoted to profits, as well as governments which may use AI to gain power and even oppress their citizenry” There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator; there are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad.
We Shouldn’t be Worried. Yet.
Dr Simon Stringer, director of the Oxford Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence, believes that the sort of intelligence shown by the AlphaGO model is quite narrow and that if you want to solve consciousness you’re not going to solve it using the sorts of algorithms they’re using, he is however aiming to produce the first prototypical conscious systems, something very simple, somewhere between a mouse and a rat, within the next 20 – 30 years.