The smarter AI gets, the less alarmist Elon Musk sounds

AI someone else's problem
Image credit: sirtravelalot /

AI has been chosen as one of our overhyped technologies of the year. It is, many believe, caught between the rock of very fast look-up and the hard place of being fully conscious.

The first type of AI has been around in some form for many years. The new and emerging form of AI is still some way away, and we are in danger of blanking it with one of those Hitchhikers’ ‘Someone Else’s Problem Field’. Except, of course, Elon Musk, who is keen to get off the planet before robots take over.

Read Richard Windsor’s article on Google’s progress in AI and it becomes clear that while the conscious AI may well be years away, the roadmap is coming into focus.

Windsor’s research points pretty clearly to the fact that machines make better coders than humans. He points to the time and effort it takes a human to build and train a model of something. Machines can do this with far less effort, cost and time.

All of which is fine, so far. It makes complete sense that, once programmed to a certain level, vast armies of lawyers, financial brokers and the like can clear their desks and leave logical decisions and choices to machines.

The spooky bit, however, (apart from the important question of what the lawyers and financial brokers now do with their time) is that the machines are coding “better” than humans.

Which means that AI machines will build better machines than we can. And better will inevitably mean emotionless machines.

Humans are driven by emotion, except in times of national or international emergency. When we are not in dark and dangerous times, our lives are full of emotion. We have pets (although apparently robot pets are about to become the ‘thing’) and children and we protect them because we love them.

If we didn’t, then we could watch David Attenborough’s wildlife programs without crying (and pretending not to) when the baby elephant dies, or the baby bird doesn’t pull through.

We say that nature is cruel, but actually nature is emotionless, like a machine.

That idea is not new, even if we are busy avoiding the issue. What is new is that Google and its Auto ML AI project now seem to be showing us the path towards conscious AI – whatever that may bring.

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