Time to discuss AI ethics — experts gather in January

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Some of the brightest minds working in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) will meet up at New York University this coming January. The assembled gathering will discuss the ethical implications of working with artificial intelligence. The information comes from the CEO of the artificial intelligence startup DeepMind, Demis Hassabis, whose company now houses more than 150 employees.

Learning computers and adaptive AI are right around the corner. With autonomous cars and artificial assistance in filtering spam already here, it’s hard not to think about what we’ll see in the future. And so minds more intelligent than the common person’s have decided humanity should discuss the ethics in the field of artificial intelligence.

U.K. company DeepMind was acquired last year by Google for £400 million to incorporate its technology into the search giant’s services. Not the least of which are its image recognition on Google+ and its recommendation engines. The AI works with algorithms that learn on their own, and so far they’ve already annihilated human competition in video games like Space Invaders and Breakout. According to the company, they strive to do things like “solve intelligence” and then “solve everything else,” whatever that entails.

Competing enterprises such as Apple have their own interests in AI, with services like Siri that could greatly benefit from progress within that area to both more accurately learn what you’re saying and display more precise search results. No doubt so does Facebook, and so does Toyota, which has invested a billion dollars in artificial intelligence with a focus on self-driving cars.

During a speech at the British Museum in London, Hassabis made the audience aware of the responsibility that comes with creating an artificial intelligence: “If we have something this powerful we need to think about the ethics.” The renowned scientist Stephen Hawking has stated that we could be outsmarted within a hundred years; billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates have also expressed their concerns over the robot invasion. Not everyone is on the same page, though. Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research chief, says that the fears against AI have been greatly exaggerated.

When Google approached Hassabis with the intent of buying DeepMind he says that he demanded they set up an ethics committee. The members of this committee are unknown, and will remain that way until the controversy has been in some part resolved and there can be a “calm and collected debate.” With regard to questions regarding possible military use of DeepMind’s technology, Hassabis reassured the audience that DeepMind technology will not be used for military applications. He said that during a meeting with Stephen Hawking a few months ago, he even managed to ease the worries of the genius scientist.

DeepMind is set to publish more on the progress with its algorithms in “the next few months.” In the meantime, feel free to watch as Google releases a robot out into the wild. It fits right in — minus the power supply cable of course.

[Source: UK Business Insider]

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