Once a week.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Human-like A.I. will emerge in 5 to 10 years, say experts
A survey conducted at the Joint Multi-Conference on Human-Level Artificial Intelligence shows that 37% of respondents believe human-like artificial intelligence will be achieved within five to 10 years.
- Human-like AI, or artificial general intelligence (AGI), would occur when a machine can perform any cognitive task that a human can.
- Although computers can outperform us in some narrow tasks, no one AI can outperform humans on a wide variety of general cognitive tasks.
- Not all experts believe we're close to AGI. But most agree the field has been making significant progress, especially in recent years.
Artificial intelligence is integral to daily life in the developed world. We use AI when we order an Uber, sift through our email account's spam folder, or browse our news feeds. Beyond the world of apps, we can see dazzling examples of AI beating Go and chess masters, composing music, and identifying diseases in patients where human doctors found none.
But these are examples of weak AI, not strong AI, which is also called artificial general intelligence (AGI). An AGI is a machine that can perform any cognitive task that a human can.
AGI has long been a primary goal of AI researchers. It's the subject of countless works of science fiction, such as HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ava in Ex Machina, and the development of an AGI would likely result in a computer that could finally pass the Turing test, in which a computer must prove its intelligence is equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, a human.
So, will we ever see AGI? If so, when?
A surprising survey
The answer is yes and within five to 10 years, according to 37% of respondents to a survey issued at the Joint Multi-Conference on Human-Level Artificial Intelligence (HLAI) held last month in Prague.
The survey, which was conducted by the AI startup SingularityNET and the AI research and development company GoodAI, found that 28% of respondents expected AGI to emerge within the next two decades while just 2% didn't believe humans will ever develop AGI.
The survey also asked respondents to rate the sectors in which they thought AI could have the greatest impact. The results broke down like this:
- Healthcare (46%)
- Logistics (41%)
- Customer service (38%)
- Banking and finance (34%)
- Agriculture; retail, software development; manufacturing (28%)
A 2016 survey of AI researchers who had been published in top peer-reviewed journals found slightly less exciting results. The survey asked respondents to rate how many years it would be before AI possessed "high-level machine intelligence," which they defined as being "achieved when unaided machines can accomplish every task better and more cheaply than human workers."
The respondents were asked about specific AI milestones, such as when AI would be outperform humans in complex tasks like surgery.
Timelines showing 50% probability intervals for achieving selected AI milestones based on survey respondent opinions. Specifically, intervals represent the date range from the 25% to 75% probability of the event occurring. Circles denote the 50%-probability year that AI will achieve or exceed human performance.
Grace et al., 2018.
The survey paper concludes with researchers suggesting that, though there are many reasons to be optimistic about developments in AI, researchers in the field are sometimes no better at predicting the future than crude statistical representations.
Some experts who attended the recent HLAI conference voiced similar caution.
"At the moment, there is absolutely no indication that we are anywhere near AGI," Irakli Beridze, Head of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, told Futurism. "And no one can say with any kind of authority or conviction that this would happen within a certain time frame. Or even worse, no one can say this can even happen period. We may never have AGI, so we need to take that into account when we are discussing anything."
Still, there are a few trends helping to propel the development of AGI. These include, as AI venture capitalist Matt Turck detailed in a recent blog post, increased access to AI tools and education, an uptick in AI research in major internet companies like Google and Facebook, the ever-increasing amount of available data with which researchers can train AI, massive accelerations in computing power, and progress in quantum and optical computing. But, ultimately, only time will tell.
- How Close is the Turing Test to Being Beaten? - Big Think ›
- What animals is A.I. currently smarter than? ›
- Machines Will Outsmart Humans by 2075, Say 90% of Computer ... ›
- Machines won't take over the world. Here’s why. - Big Think ›
- The biggest problem in AI? Machines have no common sense. - Big Think ›
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
A popular and longstanding wave of thought in psychology and psychotherapy is that diagnosis is not relevant for practitioners in those fields.
Scientists regenerate damaged spinal cord nerve fibers with designer protein, helping paralyzed mice walk again.
- Researchers from Germany use a designer protein to treat spinal cord damage in mice.
- The procedure employs gene therapy to regenerate damaged nerve fibers that carry signals to and from the brain.
- The scientists aim to eventually apply the technique to humans.