Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way in recent years. For example, AI has defeated the human world champion of Go, recreated the periodic table of elements, enabled self-driving vehicles, identifed crop diseases, and predicted depression from speech. Imagine what could happen as AI improves capabilities in areas that are squarely in the domain of the human brain.
Today, technology is far from achieving parity with human-level intelligence, also known as “strong AI” or artificial general intelligence (AGI). Recent AI advances in one capability—pattern recognition—has spawned an investment gold rush for AI startups and machine learning talent from venture capital, corporations, and governments who have recognized the potential competitive advantage. AI is currently deployed in personal assistants such as Apple Siri, Google Now, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa. AI is also used for email filtering, search, personalization, fraud protection, engineering, marketing models, digital distribution, voice recognition, facial recognition, content classification, natural language, video production and even news generation.
Intelligence has many aspects that go well beyond pattern-recognition. For example, there is creativity, inventiveness, language, musical intelligence, emotional intelligence, and many other types of smarts. Some may argue that machine learning can produce results in all of these domains. AI has composed music, created original art, interpreted both speech and text, and predicted human emotions.
But those AI solutions are typically point-solutions, software developed for a single purpose and function. The AI machine learning algorithm that composes music is not the same code and architecture as the one that run in fuzzy logic controllers in the automatic gearboxes of cars.
The human brain is a one-stop biological solution that is capable of multiple forms of intelligence. From this perspective, AI is nowhere near the capabilities of a brain of a toddler, not to mention a mature adult with a fully developed prefrontal cortex.
“What goes on fours in the morning, on twos in the afternoon and threes at night?” was the riddle of the Sphinx that Oedipus was posed when he approached the entrance of the city of Thebes in the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex. His answer was that humans crawl on all fours in the beginning, stand on two legs as an adult, and then use a cane in old age.
A version of the Sphinx’s riddle modified for artificial intelligence could be, “What goes on sixes in the morning, on twos in the afternoon and soars at night?”
AI is currently crawling on all fours with human assistance in its early stages. It will stand on its own without humans when it approaches artificial general intelligence. In the final evolutionary stage of superintelligence, AI will not require any appendages when its intelligence capabilities exponentially surpasses that of the human brain. As for now, whether artificial general intelligence or superintelligence can be achieved remains a riddle to be solved in the future.
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