I Do My Best To Protect Human Intelligence: AlphaGo AI
We all have seen the movie “The Incredibles” which had a touch of AI when it came to fighting the supervillain robot which could learn its opponents moves. This robot known as Omnidroid was able to learn Mr. Incredibles moves and then modify it and use it against him. Omnidroid was certainly an imagination of a creative writer but when it comes to a real life self-learning AI, AlphaGo wins all bets. Google’s DeepMind self-learning Go program is not any ordinary AI program. This Go program is a combination of deep neural networks and tree search. AlphaGo has the ability to train itself by supervised as well as unsupervised learning. It trained on 160,000 games recorded from top Go players, and then on 30 million more games which it played against itself.
When Fan Hui faced AlphaGo he was not particularly worried about the AI but he was wrong in thinking that this was just a program. After hours of input and facing many challenges, it was the AI that emerged victoriously. Hui was the European champion just a few minutes ago and now he was beaten by an AI. An AI which was nothing more than some algorithms and connections. Had I been at his place I would have totally flipped out, seeing all the news reports that followed. But Hui did something surprising, he joined the DeepMind team with the aim to make AlphaGo even more advanced and useful. When asked about his move he said:
I do my best to protect human intelligence
which is the exact opposite of what he said a few months back. After 5 to 6 months of Hui’s defeat, AlphaGo AI defeated the world champion Lee Sedol. So the current world champion of Go is an AI, very surprising right? The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that what people like Elon Musk and Demis Hassabis have predicted has now become a reality.
The Fading Line of Reality
A company named Lyrebird has claimed that it had developed an AI which can impersonate another person’s voice. The demonstration clips of the company show famous political figures endorsing this technology. This new tech poses a very important question to the humanity. What is real and what is fake? This ever existing line that divides reality from unreal experiences has now become very faded and unclear. A smartphone app called FaceApp, released recently, can automatically modify someone’s face to add a smile, add or subtract years, or swap genders. The app can also apply “beautifying” effects that include smoothing out wrinkles and, more controversially, lightening the skin. Something that will allow the users to drastically change the way they look in pictures. Now the technology can help you look like someone else and photo editing has now come to a totally new level.
The first reaction from many eminent figures on the subject of AI was that it will result in loss of many jobs. The world has very rapidly moved on from worrying about the jobs to worrying about what is real. From becoming world champions to changing reality, AI is now affecting all our lives. The change that we are now encountering has both the perspectives of being a boon or a curse. Although people like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawkins have often resorted for these advancements to be a curse and warned about the future advancements. We always fear what we cannot understand completely.
Apart from many predictable and unpredictable consequences of the advancements of AI, the benefits still outshine the loss. The AI is able to predict heart attacks and stroke more accurately than the current standard methods. It is able to predict diseases like Autism from brain scans. Robotics and Medicine are the major sectors which benefit from the use of AI. The benefits are huge and measurable, then why is there a nagging feeling of discomfort among the experts? The World Economic Forum, in its 2017 Global Risks Report said:
New computing technologies are already having an impact: for instance IBM’s TrueNorth chip – with a design inspired by the human brain and built for “exascale “ computing – already has contracts from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to work on nuclear weapons security. While adding great benefits to scenario modelling today, the possibility of a superintelligence could turn this into a risk.
These predicted risks are not having any major impact on the development of AI. Companies like Tesla continue to work for developing Artificial Intelligence. What I understand from this is simply the human nature to understand everything. The perfect word for this is “Curiosity”, the need to know everything. If you give a child a shiny new toy, it is highly likely that the child would dismantle it sooner or later. This action is purely based on the curiosity to know what it does. Similarly, AI is the new shiny toy to the scientists of our era. Until we know its complete potential, the development of Artificial Intelligence is not likely to stop. People will keep questioning its risks and the development will go on.
It won’t be too long until we find out what is in store for us. Is it good or bad, that cannot be decided yet.