Humanity should not be worried about the rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, and instead look to embrace the technology as part of its natural progress, one of Google’s top executives has said.
Speaking in the wake of the landmark victory by the AlphaGo AI program over human player Lee Se-Dol last week, Eric Schmidt said that the integration of AI into everyday life was “a natural next step” that can “genuinely make us all smarter”.
However he admitted that this could lead to many human workers losing out to machines in terms of employment.
“I understand the economic arguments, but this technology benefits everyone on the planet, from the rich to the poor, the educated to uneducated, high IQ to low IQ, every conceivable human being. It genuinely makes us all smarter, so this is a natural next step.”
Google’s AlphaGo last week won three consecutive games against world-class Go player Lee Se-Dol in a best-of-five tournament, although Lee made a comeback on Sunday, finally defeating the program.
Looking forward, Schmidt also confirmed that Google’s investment into DeepMind, the British company powering AlphaGo, was extremely serious, saying that the company has understandably big plans for the technology.
“I can’t quantify our investment into AI, but it will eventually be embedded in everything,” he said. “It started small, with hundreds of people and now we have thousands. It’s a very significant investment.”
Machine learning is also set to be a big interest for Google, Schmidt confirmed, saying that the technology would make any service that’s used by a lot of people more efficient, particularly in the healthcare and mobility sectors.
“Think about all the things Google does that are big – we have lots of searches, lots of ads, lots of customers, lots of data centres, lots of people using Google Compute, lots of people using our security software,” he said. “Whenever you have a large number of people using something, we can probably use machine intelligence to make it more efficient.”
SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk and physicist Stephen Hawking are among those who have called for regulation of AI research, arguing that complex thinking machines could threaten humanity’s existence.
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