A superintelligence will soon be unleashed on the world. Artificial intelligence is already being used to create next level AI, which will go on to create next level AI. Soon this intelligence explosion will surpass mans intellectual capacity. With a pushstart from our brightest minds, machines will go to work deciphering problems we never had a chance of solving alone. Only the answers they find, and the questions they raise, won’t mean a thing to us. We are witnessing a remarkable moment in history. Now is the time we must choose between knowledge and power. Knowledge means handing over the reigns to the machines. Power means keeping tabs on all things superintelligent. Perhaps we’ll decide on our own. Perhaps our arm will be twisted. Either way, it appears almost certain that knowledge will eventually be victorious – our yearning to discover burns too strong.
When this time comes, known as The Singularity, mankind will undergo irreversible change. Perhaps this is why SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, an organisation dedicated to mitigating existential risks to humanity brought on by AI. And, why Stephen Hawking wrote in 2014, “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history … unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks”. Bill Gates also expressed concerns. “I am in the camp that is concerned about superintelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be superintelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern.”
Kevin Kelly, The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World
Around 2002 I attended a small party for Google — before its IPO, when it only focused on search. I struck up a conversation with Larry Page, Google’s brilliant cofounder, who became the company’s CEO in 2011. “Larry, I still don’t get it. There are so many search companies. Web search, for free? Where does that get you?” My unimaginative blindness is solid evidence that predicting is hard, especially about the future, but in my defense this was before Google had ramped up its ad-auction scheme to generate real income, long before YouTube or any other major acquisitions. I was not the only avid user of its search site who thought it would not last long. But Page’s reply has always stuck with me: “Oh, we’re really making an AI.”
I’ve thought a lot about that conversation over the past few years as Google has bought 14 AI and robotics companies. At first glance, you might think that Google is beefing up its AI portfolio to improve its search capabilities, since search contributes 80 percent of its revenue. But I think that’s backward. Rather than use AI to make its search better, Google is using search to make its AI better. Every time you type a query, click on a search-generated link, or create a link on the web, you are training the Google AI. When you type “Easter Bunny” into the image search bar and then click on the most Easter Bunny-looking image, you are teaching the AI what an Easter bunny looks like. Each of the 12.1 billion queries that Google’s 1.2 billion searchers conduct each day tutor the deep-learning AI over and over again. With another 10 years of steady improvements to its AI algorithms, plus a thousand-fold more data and 100 times more computing resources, Google will have an unrivaled AI. My prediction: By 2024, Google’s main product will not be search but AI.
History is in the making.