Google: Calm Down, Artificial Intelligence Research Won’t Lead To Robot Revolution

For those of you eyeing your smart refrigerators and with suspicion and demanding that Siri tell you her plans to precipitate the downfall of humanity, Google wants everyone to take a chill pill. The company’s head of artificial intelligence research is trying to reassure folks that Google’s work in that field won’t lead to the eventual extermination of the human race by robots.

While Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak might disagree with him, the head of applied Artificial Intelligence at Google DeepMind says the idea of robots rising up to kill everyone is “preposterous,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Whether it’s Terminator coming to blow us up or mad scientists looking to create quite perverted women robots, this narrative has somehow managed to dominate the entire landscape, which we find really quite remarkable,” said Mustafa Suleyman, speaking at a machine learning event held by Playfair Capital in London.

He says now that everyone is done going on about AI being “such a failure,” it’s on to people complaining that AI has been such a success.

One such breakthrough DeepMind is claiming is a computer that could be programmed to teach itself to play Atari games better than most humans. Years into the AI research, DeepMind says its success lies in the fact that the machine could transfer the knowledge it learned from previous games onto the next machine, instead of having humans teach it how to play.

Suleyman calls this one of the most significant breakthroughs in AI in a long time, prompting that old anxiety we humans have over being replaced by machines. That’s just silly, Suleyman says.

“On existential risk, our perspective is that it’s become a real distraction from the core ethics and safety issues, and it’s completely overshadowed the debate,” Suleyman said. ”The way we think about AI is that it’s going to be a hugely powerful tool that we control and that we direct, whose capabilities we limit, just as you do with any other tool that we have in the world around us, whether they’re washing machines or tractors. We’re building them to empower humanity and not to destroy us.”

He points to various advances made in machine learning that can help to potentially solve some big problems we humans have — not enough food, global warming, income inequality — issues that could be overshadowed by “hype” around the threat of AI to humans.

“The idea that we should spending these moments now talking about consciousness and robot rights is really quite preposterous,” he said.

Those are just words, Suleyman. Words I can’t wrap around myself for protection when the Terminator drops by my apartment on his way to worldwide domination.

Google on Artificial-Intelligence Panic: Get a Grip [Wall Street Journal]

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