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Artificial Intelligence: Existential
Threat or Our Best Hope for the
Future?
Jim Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Tetherless World Chair of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences
Director, Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications
http://www.cs.rpi.edu/~hendler
hendler@cs.rpi.edu
@jahendler
Talks I’m not giving today
What is the appropriate role for
machine intelligence?
A question that faces us today
Increasingly capable machines are continuing to improve their skills on tasks,
both cognitive and physical, that previously have been the sole province of
humans.
What is the future promise vs. risk, and what should we do about that?
Late 20th Century AI criticism
BBC: Stephen Hawking warns
artificial intelligence could end
mankind (Dec 2, 2014)
“He told the BBC: The development of full artificial
intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at
an ever increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are
limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't
compete, and would be superseded.
A discussion/response to Stephen Hawking
Guardian, 2/9/15
The robot apocalypse
has already started!!
AI is improving all the time
J. Schaeffer, 2014
AI is improving all the time
AlphaGo (Google) beats Lee Sedol (4th
ranked human) 4-1 March 2016.
AIs disallowed
Doctoral thesis
Not even close
Strong amateur
AI winner
And it’s not just games anymore
• Gaining new
prominence because
of advances
– Improving robotic
capabilities
• Increasingly able to
integrate in human
society (eg. self-
driving vehicles)
I’m sorry
Dave.
Science Fiction - 1968
Today
Today: We gain benefit from AI
But, the machines still need us…
But, the machines still need us…
credit: IBM Watson
What about tomorrow?
Will machines still need us?
Watson: Developers’ view
Watson (Blue-J) AI View
• From a research perspective Watson is
interesting in a number of ways
– because of the underlying “cognitive pipeline”
– as a different approach to memory-based reasoning
– as a model of (some aspects) of human cognition
– as the validation of a fundamental AI paradigm
AI reasoners and Control flow
Traditional AI systems (rule or logic)
generally work forward from knowledge or
backward from a goal looking “looping”
through possible answers and backtracking
when they cannot find one
Artificial Intelligence: Existential Threat or Our Best Hope for the Future?
Simon (‘69) … to Minsky (’88) – ???
• AI as monolithic reasoner/
statistical learner/ …
vs
• AI as collection of small
processes lightly linked and
moderated through learned
contexts
Simon (‘69) … to Minsky (‘88) … to
Watson (‘12)
• AI as monolithic reasoner/
statistical learner/ …
vs
• AI as collection of small
processes lightly linked and
moderated through learned
contexts
Re-emerging paradigm in cognitive computing thanks to Watson…
IBM points out
The volume of medical
knowledge doubles every five
years
81% of physicians can’t even
space 5hrs/month to keep up
By 2020 doctors will face 200x
the amount of medical data and
facts that a human could process
and proposes that Watson will help.
Being a doctor is more than just what
is in the textbooks
Does textbook knowledge overcome experience, intuition and training?
Recent break-throughs in machine-learning
“phase transition” in capabilities of neural networks w/machine power
Deep-learning Image Recognition
Recognition vs. knowledge
Recognition vs. knowledge
"If I was telling it to a kid, I'd probably say
something like 'the cat has fur and four legs and
goes meow, the duck is a bird and it swims and
goes quack’. "
Adding knowledge?
Which could you sit in?
What is most likely to bite what?
Which one is most likely to become a computer scientist someday?
If you could only save one in an emergency, which would you choose?
…
Adding knowledge?
Which could you sit in?
What is most likely to bite what?
Which one is most likely to become a computer scientist someday?
If you could only save one in an emergency, which would you choose?
…
Ethics and Responsibilities
• As AI gets more capable and the
interactions increase
– Who is responsible for use of the
technology
• eg. is it the drone or the drone
designer who fires the missile
– What are the ethical dimensions of
machines taking human jobs
• we are heading to a
displacement/disruption similar to
the industrial revolution
• We made it through that, but with a
lot of painful societal change
Ethics and Responsibilities
• As AI gets more capable and the
interactions increase
– is it ethical for us to not use machines
where we cannot deploy people?
BBC: Stephen Hawking warns
artificial intelligence could end
mankind (Dec 2, 2014)
“He told the BBC: The development of full artificial
intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at
an ever increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are
limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't
compete, and would be superseded.
Done wrong, we do look at a scary possibility
Done right, it may be our best hope
• eg. Our knowledge of cancer genomics grows
as cancer continues to spread
• eg. Our neighborhoods degrade as wealth
disparity grows
• eg. Our climate warms as we argue about the
causes without changing behaviors
These problems require the best minds of the next generation!
These problems require the best minds of the next generation!
Which will likely be both humans and machines.
Hendler and Mulvehill, 2016

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Artificial Intelligence: Existential Threat or Our Best Hope for the Future?

  • 1. Artificial Intelligence: Existential Threat or Our Best Hope for the Future? Jim Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Tetherless World Chair of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences Director, Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications http://www.cs.rpi.edu/~hendler hendler@cs.rpi.edu @jahendler
  • 2. Talks I’m not giving today
  • 3. What is the appropriate role for machine intelligence? A question that faces us today Increasingly capable machines are continuing to improve their skills on tasks, both cognitive and physical, that previously have been the sole province of humans. What is the future promise vs. risk, and what should we do about that?
  • 4. Late 20th Century AI criticism
  • 5. BBC: Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind (Dec 2, 2014) “He told the BBC: The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded. A discussion/response to Stephen Hawking
  • 6. Guardian, 2/9/15 The robot apocalypse has already started!!
  • 7. AI is improving all the time J. Schaeffer, 2014
  • 8. AI is improving all the time AlphaGo (Google) beats Lee Sedol (4th ranked human) 4-1 March 2016.
  • 9. AIs disallowed Doctoral thesis Not even close Strong amateur AI winner
  • 10. And it’s not just games anymore • Gaining new prominence because of advances – Improving robotic capabilities • Increasingly able to integrate in human society (eg. self- driving vehicles)
  • 12. Today: We gain benefit from AI
  • 13. But, the machines still need us…
  • 14. But, the machines still need us…
  • 15. credit: IBM Watson What about tomorrow?
  • 18. Watson (Blue-J) AI View • From a research perspective Watson is interesting in a number of ways – because of the underlying “cognitive pipeline” – as a different approach to memory-based reasoning – as a model of (some aspects) of human cognition – as the validation of a fundamental AI paradigm
  • 19. AI reasoners and Control flow Traditional AI systems (rule or logic) generally work forward from knowledge or backward from a goal looking “looping” through possible answers and backtracking when they cannot find one
  • 21. Simon (‘69) … to Minsky (’88) – ??? • AI as monolithic reasoner/ statistical learner/ … vs • AI as collection of small processes lightly linked and moderated through learned contexts
  • 22. Simon (‘69) … to Minsky (‘88) … to Watson (‘12) • AI as monolithic reasoner/ statistical learner/ … vs • AI as collection of small processes lightly linked and moderated through learned contexts Re-emerging paradigm in cognitive computing thanks to Watson…
  • 23. IBM points out The volume of medical knowledge doubles every five years 81% of physicians can’t even space 5hrs/month to keep up By 2020 doctors will face 200x the amount of medical data and facts that a human could process and proposes that Watson will help.
  • 24. Being a doctor is more than just what is in the textbooks Does textbook knowledge overcome experience, intuition and training?
  • 25. Recent break-throughs in machine-learning “phase transition” in capabilities of neural networks w/machine power
  • 28. Recognition vs. knowledge "If I was telling it to a kid, I'd probably say something like 'the cat has fur and four legs and goes meow, the duck is a bird and it swims and goes quack’. "
  • 29. Adding knowledge? Which could you sit in? What is most likely to bite what? Which one is most likely to become a computer scientist someday? If you could only save one in an emergency, which would you choose? …
  • 30. Adding knowledge? Which could you sit in? What is most likely to bite what? Which one is most likely to become a computer scientist someday? If you could only save one in an emergency, which would you choose? …
  • 31. Ethics and Responsibilities • As AI gets more capable and the interactions increase – Who is responsible for use of the technology • eg. is it the drone or the drone designer who fires the missile – What are the ethical dimensions of machines taking human jobs • we are heading to a displacement/disruption similar to the industrial revolution • We made it through that, but with a lot of painful societal change
  • 32. Ethics and Responsibilities • As AI gets more capable and the interactions increase – is it ethical for us to not use machines where we cannot deploy people?
  • 33. BBC: Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind (Dec 2, 2014) “He told the BBC: The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded. Done wrong, we do look at a scary possibility
  • 34. Done right, it may be our best hope • eg. Our knowledge of cancer genomics grows as cancer continues to spread • eg. Our neighborhoods degrade as wealth disparity grows • eg. Our climate warms as we argue about the causes without changing behaviors
  • 35. These problems require the best minds of the next generation!
  • 36. These problems require the best minds of the next generation! Which will likely be both humans and machines.

Editor's Notes

  1. Taken from my own phone
  2. With permission from IBM Watson
  3. With permission from IBM Watson
  4. My own slide from WEF 2013, images widely used on Web, no copyright attached
  5. My own slide from WEF 2013, images widely used on Web, no copyright attached