Artificial intelligence in 2019: a Terminator or not?

There is a funny psychological phenomenon: repeat any word enough times and eventually it will lose all meaning, turning into a wet rag, phonetically nothing. For many of us the phrase “artificial intelligence” has lost its meaning. AI is everywhere in technology, it powers everything from TVs to toothbrush, but doesn’t really mean what it should. It should not be.

Artificial intelligence: good or evil

While the phrase “artificial intelligence”, no doubt, is used correctly, this technology does more than ever- both good and bad. It is used in healthcare and military operations; helps people to write music and books; assesses your creditworthiness and improves pictures made with your phone. In short, she makes decisions that affect your life, whether you like it or not.

It can be difficult to agree with the hype and hoopla with which the AI discuss technomania and advertisers. Take, for example, a toothbrush Genius X Oral-B, one of the many devices shown at CES this year, touting the alleged skills of the AI. But upon closer inspection it becomes clear that brush just gives you feedback about how do you brush your teeth for the required amount of time and in the right places. There are several sophisticated sensors to determine where in your mouth the brush, but to call it artificial intelligence is a nonsense, nothing more.

Hype begets misunderstanding. The press may inflate and exaggerate any study with a picture of Terminator on any troubled history with AI. This often leads to confusion about what is artificial intelligence. This can be a difficult topic for non-specialists, and people often mistakenly associate the modern AI the version with which they are most familiar: science-fiction idea of a conscious computer that is many times smarter than humans. Experts call this particular image of AI artificial intelligence, and if we will ever be able to create something similar, it will be very soon. Until then, the exaggeration of intelligence or abilities of the system AI does not help the process.

It is much better to talk about “machine learning”, not about artificial intelligence. It is a subfield of artificial intelligence, which includes almost all methods that have the greatest impact on the world at the present time (including what is called deep learning). In this phrase there is no mystery, “AI”, but it is more useful to explain what makes this technology.

How does machine learning? Over the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to read dozens of explanations, and the most important difference that I have found, lies right in the name: machine learning is all that allows computers to learn on their own. But what it really means is the bigger question.

Let’s start with the problem. Let’s say you want to create a program that can recognize cats. You can write her the old-fashioned way, by programming the obvious rules, such as “cats have sharp ears” or “cat furry”. But what the application will do when you show her a picture of a tiger? Programming each rule will take a long time, you will have to explain many different concepts like “fluffy” and “spot”. Better to let the machine to teach myself. So you give her a huge collection of cat photos and she looks through them to find your own patterns in what he saw. First, she connects the dots, mostly by accident, but you check it again and again, keeping the best versions. And over time, it starts out pretty well define what is cat and what a cat is.

While everything is predictable. In fact, you probably read this explanation before — sorry for that. What is more important. What are the side effects of the education system, making decisions like this?

The biggest advantage of this method is the most obvious: you never have to program this system. Of course, you will be a lot of work refining the principles of data processing system while she is finding more intelligent methods of extracting information, but you won’t tell the system that it needs. This means that it can find patterns that people in General can ignore or not even think about them. And because the program is data — 1 and 0 — it can be trained to perform a variety of tasks, because the world is full of data. Hammer machine learning in your hand, the digital world is full of nails, ready to be actuated.

But now think about the disadvantages. If not you teach the computer how do you know how he makes decisions? Machine learning systems can explain their thinking, and this means that your algorithm can work well for the wrong reasons. Similarly, as all knows computer, is the data that you provide, it can develop a biased attitude toward things or can be good only in the narrow tasks that are similar to the data that he had seen before. There is no common sense, which you might expect from the man. You can create the world’s best facial recognition of cats, but she will never tell you that kittens can’t ride a motorcycle or that the cat likely will be called “Koschei the deathless” or “Alexey Tolstoy”.

Training computers to learn on their own is a brilliant trick. And like all tricks, this includes tricks. In AI systems is mind, if you want to call it that. But it’s not organic mind, and he doesn’t play by the same rules as the people. With the same success it is possible to ask: how clever the book? What kind of experience is encoded in the pan?

Where we are now, with our artificial intelligence? After years of headlines trezvosti about the next big breakthrough (which hasn’t happened yet, and the headers do not cease), some experts have come to the conclusion that we have reached some plateau. But this does not prevent progress. With regard to research, there are plenty of opportunities to explore with the already available knowledge, and as for the product, we have seen only the tip of the iceberg algorithmic.

Kai-Fu Lee, venture capitalist and former researcher of artificial intelligence, describes the current moment as the “era of implementation” — when technology begins to “spill over from the lab into the world.” Benedict Evans compares machine learning with relational databases, which in the 90s had made a fortune, and that changed the whole industry, but it will be so commonplace that you will get bored if your view is clouded by the greatness of the movie artificial intelligence. We are now at the stage where the AI should be normal, usual. Very soon machine learning will in each of us and we will cease to pay attention to him.

But until that happens.

Currently, artificial intelligence, machine learning is still something new that is often left unexplained or poorly understood. But in the future it will become so familiar and common that you will cease to notice it.

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