Is Artificial Intelligence Here?

Being a hacker doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the law. Hackers, like those in ALGORITHM, push the boundaries of what is possible. As such, I put Alex Wissner-Gross in the category of hacker.

In a TED talk given given by Alex Wissner-Gross in November of 2013 called A New Equation for Intelligence shows us what will probably be the future of Artificial Intelligence. For him, the greatness of his insight comes from the radically simplified definition of intelligence. He managed to get it into a single, relatively basic equation. And, he rightly compares it to Einstein’s E=Mc2, which revolutionized physics.

Wissner-Gross’s talk is not easily accessible. He doesn’t really dumb it down, though, I’m sure he would say he left out the really complex parts. But, if you can understand it, the enormity of what he says cannot be overlooked. And in case that’s a problem, he does a demonstration, with quality rivaling a Roger Corman production.

What Wissner-Gross has done is he has made a machine think. He talks about how it makes decisions, without directions from its human programmers. They simply give the program a scenario, and the program decides on it’s own what to do with it.

In case you don’t know about computers, what I’m about to say should blow your mind!

The computer buys and sells stocks, in a simulation. And it makes A LOT of money. It does other basic things, each of which is very impressive: shipping, balancing, playing Pong, etc. The AI does all of those things with equal, mind-boggling success.

Alex Wissner-Gross ends his talk with what is probably the worst way to end a talk on what is the biggest revelation in AI since the Turing Test. He brings up the nuclear war, as foretold by almost every Sci-fi author who has written about artificial intelligence. The day the machines fight back, and win.

Functional artificial intelligence brings up some very interesting questions, only one of which is our own machine apocalypse. 

How smart must a computer become before it gets rights… before it ceases to be a tool and starts to become a slave? 

And, when that happens, do we have the right/responsibility to treat the AI as a person? 

What kind of person? 

How do we react when we realize the computer is smarter than we are?

Those questions, as so many things these days, used to be categorized as either conspiracy theories or science fiction. That’s not the case anymore. They are here, today. We live in the future. And, even if you’re morally resistant to it, someone else, somewhere else isn’t. And his name is Alex Wissner-Gross.