El Reg was invited to the House of Lords to burst the AI-pocalypse bubble

www.theregister.co.uk | 10/11/2017 | Staff
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Comment To Westminster, where the House of Lords is conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into Artificial Intelligence. I'm writing a book on AI – and why people believe in it – and on the basis of some notes was invited to give oral evidence on a panel of three alongside the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones and The Financial Times' Sarah O'Connor.

AI is so hot right now, Parliament TV decided to show it live. Here's how it went.

Inquiry - Panel - Mine - Oxford - University

The inquiry's first panel preceded mine, and starred Oxford University Philosopher Professor Nick Bostrom, head of computer science Professor Mike Wooldridge, and Dame Wendy Hall, DBE, FRS, FREng*. Bostrom is the posthuman thinker instrumental in promoting the notion of an AI jobs apocalypse**, but is best known for promoting the idea that reality is a computer game simulation. At a couple of points over the next 45 minutes I did wonder if maybe he had a point.

To my surprise, though, Bostrom was the most grounded and realistic about the prospects of AI. No, he said, general intelligence is nowhere near close and not even worth talking about. Be cautious about betting on big leaps in automation. By contrast, Wooldridge and Hall bubbled with enthusiasm like teenagers on nitrous oxide. AI is amazing! More money, please!

Academics - Resources - Capacity - Wooldridge

When academics ask for more resources, it's coded. "We need more capacity," said Wooldridge.

I have some sympathy for an AI veteran like Professor Wooldridge – the AI winters have been so very long and cold, and the summers so very short, that you can't blame him for running around like a squirrel on an autumn day, collecting as many nuts as he can. I learned he's writing two children's books on machine learning. That's two nuts at least.

Wooldridge - Doubts - Potential - Machine - Learning

However, if Wooldridge harboured any doubts about the epoch-changing potential of machine learning (ML) –...
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