Time was when Google engineers spent all their days counting links and ranking pages. The company's famous algorithm made it the leading search engine in the world. Admittedly, it was far from perfect. That is why current efforts are aimed at developing ways for computers to read and understand natural language.
Enter Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and expert in artificial intelligence. Kurzweil's goal is ostensibly to help the company improve the accuracy of its search results, but that is certainly not all. Kurzweil, after all, is one of the world's leading advocates of "hard AI," or the development of consciousness in an artificial being. Kurzweil believes this will come about in 2029, to be specific.
So in addition to Google's development of autonomous cars and its aggressive play in robotic delivery systems, the company is also looking to build an artificial brain, aka "The Google Brain." As Steven Levy notes on Wired, this is a fact that "some may consider thrilling and others deeply unsettling. Or both."
Kurzweil is collaborating with Jeff Dean to find the brain's algorithm, and Kurzweil says the reason he is at Google is to take full advantage of the company's deep learning resources.
In the video below, Kurzweil outlines three tangible benefits that he expects to come out of this project. Beyond building more intelligent machines, if we are able to reverse-engineer the brain, we will be able to do a better job at fixing it. We will also gain more insight into ourselves, he says. After all, "our identity, our consciousness, the concept of free will is closely associated with the brain."
Watch the video here:
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