Technology is advancing at a tremendous rate. Everything seems to be getting smarter – homes, cars, shoes.. you name it! A lot of attention is being focused on AI – with tech giants now investing heavily in incorporating bots into their services. But are we really looking at a not-so-distant future where AI will surpass humans in doing things that, well, make us human?
Recently, Facebook Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was asked about the future of the machine learning technology that powers its Messenger bots. Here’s what he said..
“So the biggest thing that we’re focused on with artificial intelligence is building computer services that have better perception than people… So the basic human senses like seeing, hearing, language, core things that we do. I think it’s possible to get to the point in the next five to 10 years where we have computer systems that are better than people at each of those things.”
Source: The Verge
Bit scary, isn’t it? The thought of computer systems with abilities that make us biologically human – senses and skills we rely on to interact with our world. Makes it seem rather inevitable that a wide variety of jobs currently done by people will no longer require expensive human labor, because artificial intelligence will be far superior.
However, Zuckerberg goes on to say..
“That doesn’t mean that the computers will be thinking or be generally better…”
That isn’t really a great amount of praise for the species he belongs to, but we’ll take whatever little we can get. Thinking here means something more complex than understanding how to carry on a conversation or tell a cat from a dog. It’s about being able to do several different things well, and learning on your own in an unpredictable and unsupervised environment. Generally better is being used in the sense that we are generalists, capable of handling a wide universe of tasks.
Source: The Verge
Human and animal learning is mostly unsupervised. We know how to program machines to do certain tasks, to follow a routine, to understand data and extract meaningful information from it. But we cannot train a machine to master unknown skills on their own. Until unsupervised learning cant be “taught” to machines, humans, as natural beings, will still have the upper hand. There cannot be true AI without unsupervised learning.
Zuckerberg sees bots stepping in for customer service reps and personal assistants.
“One way that I think you’re going to see bots work, between people who are actually driving the businesses directly will need to in some way train or answer questions for people, but we can build artificial intelligence that can learn from people how to automate a lot of that and make that experience a lot faster for people who want to interact with businesses and public figures.”
How should we prepare for this new reality? One possibility is universal basic income (more on this another time). The other is to redesign our educational system with a focus on new skills that will equip our future generations to find meaningful jobs in a world of advanced AI.
But when you look at the less-than-impressive launch of recent smart bots from Microsoft and Facebook — they turned out to be slow (Messenger bots that don’t respond for several minutes), racist (Tay’s mean tweets) and in general, not the smartest — you can’t help but wonder if this is just another one of those AI hype rounds that will soon lose traction. What are your thoughts on this? Will machines ever really be better than humans, at being human? Leave us a comment below!