Artificial Intelligence: are we nearly there yet?

Last night I gave a public lecture, at my University, with the title above. It went well: there were about 50 people, between about 11 and 75 in age, with some academics, some teachers, and quite a few whom I simply didn’t know. I spoke to my slides for about 45 minutes, then opened the floor to questions: and there really were a lot. I’m happy with the talk, I had been worried about it, for it’s a very different thing to be talking to a audience that’s come out in the evening, from lecturing to students. But this went well. Pitching it was an issue: how can one present material about artificial intelligence which fits all these people. I tried, and I think I succeeded. I had a very interesting discussion with a 17 year old lad at the end: I’d been saying that the concept of the AI Singularity was predicated in the concept of abstract intelligence – which is something I really don’t believe in. But he pointed out that there was nothing in  my argument to stop an embodied intelligence from building a more intelligent embodied intelligence, and that this could still be at the root of a positive-feedback intelligence loop. I couldn’t fault his logic. So now I’m not sure whether to worry about the singularity or not! Actually, Jurgen Schmidhuber thinks I should stop worrying and look at what’s already been done!

It took me a little while to work out why I was so pleased to have given the talk: then I remembered going to some public lectures in Glasgow University in the mid-1960’s, as a teenager, and really enjoying them. It is good to give something back!

Note: I’ve now written a 1000 word extract on AI, possibly for a newspaper – though it doesn’t mention the singularity. And now the Deccan Herald has published it!

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4 Responses to “Artificial Intelligence: are we nearly there yet?”

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