AI: Artificial Imitation
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is enjoying one of its periodic moments in the limelight. Why this interest now? Some of this we can put down to the ongoing fascination Hollywood seems to have with AI. From Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Stephen Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence to Alex Garland’s Ex Machina; Hollywood has made enjoyable films and good money out of AI.
These films have inspired generations of AI students. Indeed AI was once described as making computers that behave like the ones in the movies! However, Hollywood invariably takes a dystopian view of the subject. The computers and robots are usually mad, bad and dangerous to know. Yet this doesn’t seem to hinder AI’s popularity.
A second reason that AI is in vogue is that some of the planet’s greatest scientists and innovators have been telling us to take care. Stephen Hawking is worried that super smart computers could spell the end of the human race. Elon Musk donated $10 million to keep AI beneficial. And a year ago we saw the publication of an open letter from leading Artificial Intelligence experts, arguing for vigilance so as to ensure that this fast developing field benefits humanity.
A third reason that AI is much talked about is because our machines seem to be getting ever more prescient, even anticipating our needs. This is what struck Stephen Hawking when he upgraded the system that enables him to write and communicate despite his motor neuron disease. What the computer could do surprised him – just how smart it was – seeming to anticipate what he wanted to write next. This set him thinking about just how intelligent computers were becoming and how quickly that was happening.