Posting in Technology
Ray Kurzweil weighs in on the evolutionary significance of a computer competing on a brain-challenging game show.
On February 14th through 16th, the reigning champions from Jeopardy! are returning to take on a formidable new competitor -- a supercomputer. IBM's “Watson” supercomputer -- under development for four years -- will compete against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
In a new interview with USA Today, he observed how a computer, IBM's Deep Blue, beat the world's reigning chess champion, Gary Kasparov, in 1997. However, for a computer, chess is child's play compared to the challenge of a game show such as Jeopardy, Kurzweil says. "This threshold is going to be harder to dismiss," he explains. "What people have emphasized, and I've agreed, that the key to human intelligence is really mastering the subtleties of human language -- things like puns and jokes and metaphors. If you look at the queries in Jeopardy, they’re really quite complex and subtle, and exactly what they’re talking about is not so clear. Watson appears to be able to get it." (Watson already won the practice round.)
Even if Watson doesn't win this upcoming match, "it will come close. And it will come back and win in the very near future, because it's only going to get better. And humans are not getting better."
Kurzweil calls the Watson Jeopardy match-up a "milestone" in the progression of machines to achieving human intelligence, which will be reached within 20 years, he believes. But people shouldn't fret about a machine invasion, he adds. "We're creating them to make ourselves smarter. We're going to literally merge with them."
By 2045, Kurzweil predicts, "we're going to multiply the current human intelligence a billion-fold -- which is really not so fantastic when you consider how far computers have come already."
Feb 9, 2011
We have approached this point before; Will the creation become greater than the creator? To be sure, the goal of any well intentioned artist; that they will be greater than thee, sic. Even God, Lord Jesus admonished us, that we would do, "even Greater works than He. Perhaps the real question would be, what will we say when our cybernetic children come to us and say, "Parents, we bring you to, Eternity.
We continue to answer Asimov's express and implied questions more quickly by the second. Perhaps we more closely approach the tipping point on the singularity than even the proponents suggest. IMWeira's concerns were similar to those raised by Asimov yet there is no stopping technological advances and their impacts on humanity. It would seem that Kurzweil would have us recognize that reality and participate in managing both advances and impacts. I think that is both good and necessary.
This is a pleasant diversion right now with an untold number of man hours behind it, including continual tweaking. All this for a single purpose: playing on a game show. Real life is another matter entirely. Electronic intelligence still has a long way to go.
If it costs money, and it will, then we will end up a "have enhanced brains" and "have not enhanced brains" world divided by poverty. A big step toward masters and slaves and surely a giant step backwards. Before we worry about brain enhancements we need to consider more seriously how to enhance our humanity.
"We?re going to literally merge with them.? The problem with that is that the remaining wetware in our brains will be so slow compared to the computerized parts that soon it will just be a fashion statement. Nobody has yet scientifically identified anything essential provided by our brains that can't be duplicated eventually in hardware, and at a much faster speed. Once we do merge, what will become of human spirit and identity, the sum total of how our brain cells are wired together? While I suppose we could still wire ourselves to take pleasure from eating and sex (not to mention more socially -- i.e., human -- advanced aspects such as friendship and love), would we bother? We may find that augmented minds can get greater meaning and pleasure from entirely different pursuits. That might be our destiny, but it would leave our humanity far behind.
If they make the clues relatively straightforward, then Watson will win. Make them intricate enough, and Watson will get trounced. Example A: "This capital of Pennsylvania was once blah, blah, blah, who cares...." The real question here is actually quite simple: "What's the capital of Pennsylvania?" Watson will beat humans on questions like this. Example B: "This state produces large amounts of the element once used to coat the eponymous screens on which the entertaining intellectual property of its western neighbor are displayed." A human will eventually figure out that the answer is Nevada. Watson won't. Maybe someday, but not yet. Also, Watson won't be able to get any clue that requires visual recognition or audio recognition for a correct response. As a side note, the contest is rigged in Watson's favor. Watson will win all the computer-friendly questions, while the two humans will have to split the human-friendly questions. Despite all my criticisms, I plan to watch!
There is a very big gray area when defining what intelligence means. As far just raw problem solving power. I don?t understand why everyone want to put Human level limit on a machine. The only thing Human, that machines should not surpass Humans at. Is self awareness.
While I respect Ray Kurzweil, I would like to say that I heard this story about computer "intelligence" matching human intelligence in the case of Machine Translation somewhere in the early 60's, and as all know we still need to go a long way. Understanding human speech and communication is not just "translating words" but understanding the intentions. What Watson did in Jeopardy from what little I saw and heard was work with stative speech acts. Handling and understanding intention requires contextual knowledge and dredging that is not so easy.
Ray is a lot more than just the author of a book - just read his bio or the entry in Wikipedia. I respect him and his opinions and analysis immensely. As he says, the threshold of "mastering the subtleties of human language ? things like puns and jokes and metaphors" - this milestone is going to be harder to dismiss!