Artificial Intelligence scares and intrigues us. Almost ever week, there’s a new AI scare on the news like developers shutting down bots because they got too intelligent. Most of those news are a result of AI research misinterpreted by those outside of the field. Still, it shows the fear and interest in AI. And the greatest fear is singularity or Artificial General Intelligence, AI capable of improving itself and as a result reaching far beyond our capabilities. For those who came to get an answer:
- Will singularity ever happen? According to most AI experts, yes.
- When will it happen? Before the end of the century
For the more nuanced answer, please read it on. There have been several surveys of AI scientists asking about when such developments will take place.
In 2009, 21 AI experts participating in AGI-09 conference were surveyed. Experts believe AGI will occur around 2050, and plausibly sooner.
In 2017 May, 352 AI experts who published at the 2015 NIPS and ICML conferences were surveyed. Based on survey results, experts estimate that there’s a 50% chance that AGI will occur until 2060. However, there’s significant difference of opinion based on geography: Asian respondents expect AGI in 30 years, whereas North Americans expect it in 74 years. Some significant job functions that are expected to be automated until 2030 are: Call center reps, truck driving, retail sales.
These may seem like wild predictions, but they seem quite reasonable when you consider these facts:
- Human intelligence is fixed unless we somehow merge our cognitive capabilities with machines like Elon Musk’s neural lace startup aims to do.
- Machine intelligence depends on algorithms, processing power and memory. Processing power and memory have been growing at an exponential rate. As for algorithms, until now we have been good at supplying machines with necessary algorithms to use their processing power and memory effectively.
Considering that our intelligence is fixed and machine intelligence is growing, it is only a matter of time before machines surpass us unless there’s some hard limit to their intelligence. We haven’t encountered such a limit yet.
Finally, this is a good analogy for understanding exponential growth. While machines can seem dumb right now, they can grow quite smart, quite soon.