AI Gets its Groove Back

Thanks to the advent of Big Data, new algorithms and massive, affordable computing power, artificial intelligence is now, finally, on a roll again.

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Others in the AI field are more upbeat about the future. "Things will come to be that we can't think of now -- there will be unexpected revolutions like the Internet," says Patrick Winston, a professor at MIT.

"As the machines become smart, they will make us smarter," agrees Narrative Science's Hammond. "No matter where you are or what you are doing they will get you the information you need, and you will see and hear a richer version of the world." Tapping into a world of information, "everyone will have an augmented memory of everything," he adds.

But, LeCun cautions, "We are still very far from building really intelligent machines." How far? He won't say. "Those kinds of predictions are invariably wrong," he explains.

"The field of AI is trying to understand human-level intelligence, something that took evolution a billion years and more to develop, and it's unreasonable to expect humans to recapitulate that process even in a few decades," adds Jeff Siskind, professor at Purdue University. "That said, I think we're making a huge amount of progress."

Beyond economic impact, futurists have also proposed a singularity, or a moment at which the machines individually or collectively achieve consciousness and turn against humanity. Those in the AI field tend to shrug off the idea.

"We can always pull the plug," MIT's Winston says.

This article, AI regains its footing, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Lamont Wood is a freelance writer in San Antonio.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

This story, "AI Gets its Groove Back" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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