Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, is both a scary and exciting subject. We have all seen the sci-fi movies where AI-controlled robots go berserk and threaten our very existence like in Terminator or The Matrix. And even if we are far off from that level of sophistication, it’s closer than we think. There are numerous companies doing research on the topic, with applications ranging from robotic soldiers to smart fridges. Even today we use basic AI in the form of voice-controlled search engines like Apple’s Siri.
How artificial intelligence is defined varies depending on who you ask, as the most common definition is a system (machine or software) that mimics the way a human behaves. However, many argue that it’s not AI until it’s been proven that the system can actually learn and interpret data in a way that does not mimic a human, but actually behaves exactly like a human.
One of the ways to establish this is via the Turing Test, developed by Alan Turing in the 1950s. Simplified, it requires you to have a conversation with a program, and for the program to pass the test the interviewer should not be able to distinguish if the conversation is with a human or not. A modern version of this test would be to put two participants in a chat room, where one is an AI. The program passes the test if no one can determine which one is the human.
Recently prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawkins and Elon Musk, signed an open letter urging the world to be cautious with the development of AIs. They do not want to ban AI development, but to responsibly focus on the benefits for mankind while avoiding the pitfalls.
To fully reach the capacity of the human brain, enormous amounts of computer memory and processor power is needed. For a basic simulation of the human brain it’s estimated that 10,000 terabytes of computer memory is needed. This comes at a huge cost with today’s standards, but as soon as 2019 the amount of hardware needed for a super computer capable of the simulation is predicted to cost 1 million US dollars (approximately £700,000).
So how close are we to developing a sophisticated AI? Henry Markram, lead researcher on the Blue Brain Project, claims that “a detailed, functional artificial human brain can be built within the next 10 years.” This means that a real AI is not far behind. Definitely scary and exciting at the same time.
What are your opinions on the applications of AI controlled systems? Leave a comment and let us know!