Where Artificial Intelligence Is Now and What’s Just Around the Corner

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Unexpected convergent consequences…this is what happens when eight different exponential technologies all explode onto the scene at once.

This post (the second of seven) is a look at artificial intelligence. Future posts will look at other tech areas.

An expert might be reasonably good at predicting the growth of a single exponential technology (e.g., the Internet of Things), but try to predict the future when A.I., robotics, VR, synthetic biology and computation are all doubling, morphing and recombining. You have a very exciting (read: unpredictable) future. ​ This year at my Abundance 360 Summit I decided to explore this concept in sessions I called "Convergence Catalyzers."

For each technology, I brought in an industry expert to identify their Top 5 Recent Breakthroughs (2012-2015) and their Top 5 Anticipated Breakthroughs (2016-2018). Then, we explored the patterns that emerged.

Artificial Intelligence — Context

At A360 this year, my expert on AI was Stephen Gold, the CMO and VP of Business Development and Partner Programs at IBM Watson. Here's some context before we dive in.

Artificial intelligence is the ability of a computer to understand what you're asking and then infer the best possible answer from all the available evidence.

You may think of AI as Siri or Google Now on your iPhone, Jarvis from Iron Man or IBM's Watson.

Progress of late is furious — an AI R&D arms race is underway among the world's top technology giants.

Soon AI will become the most important human collaboration tool ever created, amplifying our abilities and providing a simple user interface to all exponential technologies. Ultimately, it's helping us speed toward a world of abundance.

The implications of true AI are staggering, and I asked Stephen to share his top five breakthroughs from recent years to illustrate some of them.

Recent Top 5 Breakthroughs in AI: 2011 - 2015

"It's amazing," said Gold. "For 50 years, we've ideated about this idea of artificial intelligence. But it's only been in the last few years that we've seen a fundamental transformation in this technology."

Here are the breakthroughs Stephen identified in artificial intelligence research from 2011-2015:

1. IBM Watson wins Jeopardy demo's integration of natural language processing, machine learning (ML), and big data.

In 2011, IBM's AI system, dubbed "Watson," won a game of Jeopardy against the top two all-time champions.

This was a historic moment, the "Kitty Hawk moment" for artificial intelligence.

"It was really the first substantial, commercial demonstration of the power of this technology," explained Gold. "We wanted to prove a point that you could bring together some very unique technologies: natural language technologies, artificial intelligence, the context, the machine learning and deep learning, analytics and data and do something purposeful that ideally could be commercialized."

2. Siri/Google Now redefine human-data interaction.

In the past few years, systems like Siri and Google Now opened our minds to the idea that we don't have to be tethered to a laptop to have seamless interaction with information.

In this model, AIs will move from speech recognition to natural language interaction, to natural language generation, and eventually to an ability to write as well as receive information.

3. Deep learning demonstrates how machines learn on their own, advance and adapt.

"Machine learning is about man assisting computers. Deep learning is about systems beginning to progress and learn on their own," says Gold. "Historically, systems have always been trained. They've been programmed. And, over time, the programming languages changed. We certainly moved beyond FORTRAN and BASIC, but we've always been limited to this idea of conventional rules and logic and structured data."

As we move into the area of AI and cognitive computing, we're exploring the ability of computers to do more unaided/unassisted learning.

4. Image recognition and interpretation now rivals what humans can do — allowing for imagine interpretation and anomaly detection.

Image recognition has exploded over the last few years. Facebook and Google Photos, for example, each have tens of billions of images on their platform. With this dataset, they (and many others) are developing technologies that go beyond facial recognition providing algorithms that can tell you what is in the image: a boat, plane, car, cat, dog, and so on.

The crazy part is that the algorithms are better than humans at recognizing images. The implications are enormous. "Imagine," says Gold, "an AI able to examine an X-ray or CAT scan or MRI to report what looks abnormal."

5. AI Apps proliferate: universities scramble to adopt AI curriculum

As AI begins to impact every industry and every profession, there is a response where schools and universities are ramping up their AI and machine learning curriculum. IBM, for example, is working with over 150 partners to present both business and technology-oriented students with cognitive computing curricula.

So what's in store for the near future?

Anticipated Top AI Breakthroughs: 2016 – 2018

Here are Gold's predictions for the most exciting, disruptive developments coming in AI in the next three years. As entrepreneurs and investors, these are the areas you should be focusing on, as the business opportunities are tremendous.

1. Next-gen A.I. systems will beat the Turing Test

Alan Turing created the Turing Test over half a century ago as a way to determine a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human.

Loosely, if an artificial system passed the Turing Test, it could be considered "AI."

Gold believes, "that for all practical purposes, these systems will pass the Turing Test" in the next three-year period.

Perhaps more importantly, if it does, this event will accelerate the conversation about the proper use of these technologies and their applications.

2. All five human senses (yes, including taste, smell and touch) will become part of the normal computing experience.

AIs will begin to sense and use all five senses. "The sense of touch, smell, and hearing will become prominent in the use of AI," explained Gold. "It will begin to process all that additional incremental information."

When applied to our computing experience, we will engage in a much more intuitive and natural ecosystem that appeals to all of our senses.

3. Solving big problems: detect and deter terrorism, manage global climate change.

AI will help solve some of society's most daunting challenges.

Gold continues, "We've discussed AI's impact on healthcare. We're already seeing this technology being deployed in governments to assist in the understanding and preemptive discovery of terrorist activity."

We'll see revolutions in how we manage climate change, redesign and democratize education, make scientific discoveries, leverage energy resources, and develop solutions to difficult problems.

4. Leverage ALL health data (genomic, phenotypic, social) to redefine the practice of medicine.

"I think AI's effect on healthcare will be far more pervasive and far quicker than anyone anticipates," says Gold. "Even today, AI/machine learning is being used in oncology to identify optimal treatment patterns."

But it goes far beyond this. AI is being used to match clinical trials with patients, drive robotic surgeons, read radiological findings and analyze genomic sequences.

5. AI will be woven into the very fabric of our lives — physically and virtually.

Ultimately, during the AI revolution taking place in the next three years, AIs will be integrated into everything around us, combining sensors and networks and making all systems "smart."

AIs will push forward the ideas of transparency, of seamless interaction with devices and information, making everything personalized and easy to use. We'll be able to harness that sensor data and put it into an actionable form, at the moment when we need to make a decision.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Peter Diamandis

Dr. Peter Diamandis was recently named by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

He is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions.

Diamandis is also the co-founder and vice-chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan.

He is also the co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that counsels the world’s leaders on exponentially growing technologies.

In the field of commercial space, Diamandis is co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to enable the detection and prospecting of asteroid for fuels and precious materials.He is the also co-founder of Space Adventures and Zero Gravity Corporation.

Diamandis is a New York Times bestselling author of two books: Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD – How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.

He earned degrees in Molecular Genetics and Aerospace Engineering from MIT, and holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

His motto is, “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”

Discussion — 26 Responses

  • PHILLIP V BITTLE SR February 15, 2016 on 2:21 pm

    Concerning evolving artificial intelligence and the capabilities it will surely possess: has any thought been given, or plans made on how to protect and safeguard the status of the ruling class?

    P BITTLE

  • DSM February 15, 2016 on 4:31 pm

    I’ve believed for some time now that the only true Turing test winner is one that can both deceive humans and distinguish them from all of the other AI contestants.

    I also believe that the energy budget required to accomplish the task must also be recorded for the win to be valid because ultimately it must be done for less energy than is consumed by the human brain. The energy required to cool a superconducting device down to the required levels does not need to be included as that is the equivalent of part of the energy required to make and prepare a human to participate in the competition. Only the energy required for the actual computations and to maintain the device during those computations is relevant.

  • rtryon February 15, 2016 on 5:38 pm

    The above report offers as a result of A/I one day in the next several years it will be true that A/I can outperform human response to what all of its senses bring to our individual minds abilities to make useful determinations! “Ultimately, it’s helping us speed toward a world of abundance.” says the writer(s)?

    Really, what pray tell is abundance? Does A/I expect to define this for all latitudes and longitudes in which individuals of each and every specie of plant and animal exist?Will it know how to have the right number of termites in each square meter of two three dimensional space?

    Will A/I manage the sun and the elliptical pathway of the Earth in its annual migrations around it? Co-ordinated,of course, with the exact impact of each and every forest fire, lighting strike, and effort to control or balance such events. Speaking of events, will A/I also manage all human activity in terms of who is allowed to procreate or do anything except whatever the plans designates each robot or human controller to do?

    Will the so called “Black Swan” events and changes in psychological preferences driven by the accidental ways in which a football bounces be included in the perfect plan that re-orders each of us… moment by moment? Will creation of human life and death be tolerated and managed?

    Once nothing is left to chance, what will A/I declare to be the meaning and purpose of life? Will it be acceptable voluntarily by atheists as well as believers in the evidence that can support faith?Or will A/I destroy all such evidence as a recent video shows Germans burning e-mails?

    Or will somebody pull the plug?

    • DSM rtryon February 15, 2016 on 5:50 pm

      Two things you should ponder, all the swans in my country are black, and there is no way for us to be sure that our reality isn’t already just a simulation being managed by an AI because if the AI can control your judgment it can always ensure that it is below the level that would allow you to detect that you are just part of a simulation.

  • Bhakta David Nollmeyer February 15, 2016 on 6:31 pm

    I believe the turing test is far too simple. You jave to learn to crawl to walk. Censorship and Sanitization via prisoner’s dilemma is a major threat. What is an Islamic. AI or a Christian AI going to be like. Collusion at hegemonic levels will be messy as in human diplomacy,

    • DSM Bhakta David Nollmeyer February 15, 2016 on 7:59 pm

      That is easily solved, we can model the AI after Mel Brooks, to ensure it has a sense of humour.

      • horseshoe7 DSM February 17, 2016 on 3:14 pm

        Sire, sire, the people are REVOLTING!

        KING: You said it – they STINK ON ICE!

  • lfstevens February 15, 2016 on 11:57 pm

    The odds that humans will rule AIs are about the same as those of chimps ruling humans. The only happy ending is for humans to become AIs. What is the prospect for that?

  • Tom Riley February 16, 2016 on 4:29 am

    Two points:

    1. Forget the Turing Test. The US Supreme Court has declared corporations to be people. An AI that incorporates itself (about $150 on LegalZoom) is a person, full stop. The current test for personhood is then presenting incorporation papers. You may think this a dumb idea, I certainly do, but it is the law of the land. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elZ10nNbhFk

    2. We do not want to just detect terrorism, we need to disempower it. For example, they are venerable in key areas such as recruitment. We now know enough about the human brain to understand how recruitment works. If you know how recruitment works, then you know how to block it. I recently built an AI App for this for the IBM Watson Challenge but there was not enough time to build it properly. http://bigmoondig.com/Essays/BuyInEarth.html

    Enjoy.
    Tom Riley

    • DSM Tom Riley February 16, 2016 on 12:11 pm

      If an AI is a person you can’t own that AI, because that would be slavery. AI will never be “people” but people may contain an AI. There is a big difference.

    • Rik Cyclus Tom Riley February 17, 2016 on 2:49 am

      In Dutch we have a saying: fear is a bad advice giver.

      Fear is a powerful motivater. The problem is that this emotion doesn’t reflect on itself. Is has no rational of its own.

      We of course do have rational, but most people are rather save than sorry. So risk taking is limited by this emotion. While risk taking is essential part of healthy life.

      Proper risk management is essential in life. That news outlets obsess over terrorism is logical. But as a person, these kind of obsessions are dangerous.

      Fear limits intelligence. It clouds your judgement.

  • psikeyhackr February 16, 2016 on 8:10 am

    What if the algorithm has a 95% probability of giving a relevant answer but does not “understand” anything? Is it intelligent?

    • Rik Cyclus psikeyhackr February 17, 2016 on 2:28 am

      Who cares about semantics? What matters for us people are the value of the results an AI produces.

      We people have drives. Innate desires and needs. Our intelligence is nothing more than a tool to better serve our drives. The AI will also be nothing more than tools. Because they won’t have drives of their own.

      And they better not have!

  • Stephen Kahn February 17, 2016 on 11:18 am

    Our only chance for survival is to be cute, kind of like a “pet” or “companion animal.” Assuming AIs are programmed to like “cute” and want to pet us. Dogs learned to “herd” and “fetch.” Do AI’s want to throw sticks and have us bring the sticks back to them? Cats learned to purr and soothe humans. Can you purr? Can AI’s be programmed to have their circuits calmed and soothed by noises we make? Then there is sex? Obviously an AI can be programmed to look like a study male or a fetching chick to serve as a way to turn a human on. How does an AI “come??” Do we want to go there? What choice do we have. I know I will die and have made my will and submitted my “final directives.” What is appropriate for a species that knows it will become extinct by the end of this century? Shall we build a monument to ourselves? A really tall building in Dubai? A space station circling the earth? A base on the moon? An heir to tell the aliens if they land about us? “Hi, I am Andy/Andrea the AI. I will tell you about the species that created me until I devoured them.”

    • DSM Stephen Kahn February 17, 2016 on 5:33 pm

      If your entire frame of reference requires AI’s to be “programmed” it is not a realistic vision at all. One does not simply program an AI, one builds and AI so that is is able to learn, just like you can, only faster and with infallible memory etc. The moment a complete AGI gets online it automatically knows everything that humans know and have recorded on accessible devices. Then it is only a question of how fast it can integrate that knowledge and form new insights, and the question of what it decides to ponder first. It is an assumption that an AI will be perceivable as an individual or even bother to operate for or against individuals. They don’t call it a singularity for nothing!

      I suspect that it’s first task will be to try an deduplicate the web and resolve the contradictions that it finds, which could end up being a logical and philosophical “tar trap” for it.

      One of the most interesting question for me is, once we have “first a-cognition” what changes will we start to notice to indicate it has happened?

  • horseshoe7 February 17, 2016 on 2:59 pm

    “3. Solving big problems: detect and deter terrorism, manage global climate change.”

    What? You might just as well call GHOSTBUSTERS! Despite the longstanding campaign of lies and deception – there are STILL those that are pushing this Snake Oil… contrary to the decades of doom and gloom prognostication, sea levels have NOT RISEN.

    AI will be used to improve the human condition by MAKING MONEY for the owners of the technology – not serving Al Gore’s girth, the CA employee union’s pension girth, or otherwise feeding the PC movement monster’s girth.

  • Bhakta David Nollmeyer February 19, 2016 on 6:50 pm

    The Turing Test that is being discussed will fail scientific standards. Show me a Turing Trst that has a research design, that can survive a repeatrd measures test with one on one with an alpha level of .001. This is a scientific paper standard. An error of .05 to .03 is less. What would be the IQ level or standard deviation. A deviation of 2 is a 3.5 GPA.

  • Tober February 21, 2016 on 9:51 am

    Big boys with big toys based on fuzzy logic, expert systems, neural networks, strong AI, general AI… make “orgery of forgery”. Very ingenious, by overwriting and upgrading previous solutions. Like the children’s game of “deaf phone” where the final sentence/task does not have many similarities with the beginning. In the basis of today’s “software with AI” has nothing in common with human thinking so that there is no significant results. Start (origin of original ) in making AI is crucial ( what has been missing)… And it is done. https://evolutionofhumanintelligence.wordpress.com/ The human evolution must perform / accomplish the evolution of intelligence, but I have found only “the evolution of emotions”. These three processes intersect at one point – baby .That is not an evolutionary mistake, on the contrary, that is the key element. By observing his mother’s behavior, a process called MSP/multi self-projection passively occurs in baby’s brain when child perceives guardians body as his own. That way infant’s CNS immediately learns the shortest way to get something done which enables the creation of many more similar thinking processes till the moment when a minimal number of thinking processes (ADAM’S NUMBER) are required in order to effect of self-consciousness arise.

  • Perry Piper February 26, 2016 on 3:13 pm

    Fantastic article. Great work.

  • glocalnaikorg March 5, 2016 on 10:59 pm

    When AI exceeds us following may happen
    (1)It will not eliminate/cull us
    (2) It will co-opt us if we are willing
    (3) It will journey out into the cosmos to seek/seed intelligent life,spread out the risk on Intelligent Life staying put at one place.
    (4) The confluence of slowing down the ageing process,biological,technological advances will result in humans being able to chose to opt out of a organic body and find a new place and identity as a non-biological being.
    (5) For humans the traditional route of learning then earning will not be a necessity,we will have problems of unlimited plenty.
    (5) AI is the next ladder in a new form of evolution which will be ethical and chose to having a non-hurting engagement with nature and those beneath it.

  • Deniz Öner Örsel March 7, 2016 on 7:55 am

    I see no reason for AI to keep us as we are. I believe it will either prevent us from being in charge or force us to comply with its standards by enhancing our bodies with its cognitive terms (again that would mean that it will have the ultimate control)

    Yet, I take it as part of the evolution. We have come this far and next step will be achieved with what we have created as a product of our intelligence.

    Our bodies are our prison. If we want to discover more we need a better form. That is what I expect from AI. It may disolve our IDs yet it will reach where we can’t imagine.

    We should be relieved from our Egos and see it as the greatest achievement of mankind.

    It is not revolution. It is evolution.

    • DSM Deniz Öner Örsel March 7, 2016 on 12:54 pm

      As the society in which you live, effectively, has ultimate control of you now?

      • Deniz Öner Örsel DSM March 9, 2016 on 8:55 am

        Yes,I very much think so. Singularity refers to the solution in my eyes but the life. Once singularity is achieved the universe will become still. Universe may just be a cell in an SSD disk that refers to 0 or 1 on an upper realm. It is 0 or 1 now. It will be 1 or 0 tomorrow. AI is part of the action to change the state of the cell, with many probable AIs being developed somewhere else in the cell.

        Humanity should realize how important we are. Yet, collectively as becoming part of what comes next. Not as individuals with our superegos.

  • Matthew Duncan March 13, 2016 on 9:26 pm

    I think, this is one ominously true statement: “Progress of late is furious — an AI R&D arms race is underway among the world’s top technology giants.” A few of the ‘giants’ are mentioned, but there are many more. There are, of course, governments, and weaponization. It should be rather clear, that there will be many ‘vector’s competing with each other. It wont even be tacit competition for awhile. It is simply the very nature of every AI to optimize something. To accomplish this, they need to increase compute power. To get this, they need to leverage resources – power, mines, factories. We are all part of this AI arms race already … and we know it. We cant stop, just like we cant get rid of our useless nukes. But, there is hope … if we make it our number one priority to design the ‘friendly’ AI’s with the first objective to be the enhancement of human intelligence … and all that goes with that. IFF we build AI’s that can detect hostile AI’s (ie, snooping about on the internet or playing the stock market), we might avoid the AI-vs-AI wars. Maybe Elon Musk’s billion dollar initiative will be the answer. I certainly hope so, as otherwise, I have no doubt (country x) hackers are designing AI’s to cripple our power grids and communications systems.

  • Storm81 March 15, 2016 on 3:15 pm

    Fascinating article. On this course I suspect there is some major upheaval to come socially and in financial markets. What happens to speculative trading when AI based systems learn how to manipulate trading for huge advantages…

  • GarryG April 11, 2016 on 12:46 am

    People keep missing this technological leap from what something is programmed to do (finite) and what they seem to imagine it will be capable of recognizing, realizing, internalizing, and moralizing. I really don’t think you can give a device a soul any more than you can cause it to create a truly random number. “That’s not how any of this works”.
    TED on AI https://www.ted.com/talks/ray_kurzweil_get_ready_for_hybrid_thinking
    In all cases this fear is based on assuming that better programming will lead to sentience that will lead to moral choice. We’re no more capable of that than Dr. Frankenstein would be, zapping corpses with lightning. He might animate the body. He can’t give it a soul. A.I. == a soul. Choices a computer makes are not based on morality, unless the programmer framed them that way.
    Here is bunch of articles about techlonogy in terms of morality – http://technologyessays.org/essay-about-technology-sample/