Artificial intelligence is not as smart as you (or Elon Musk) think

Advertisement In March 2016, DeepMind’s AlphaGo beat Lee Sedol, who at the time was the best human Go player in the world. It represented one of those defining technological moments not unlike IBM’s Deep Blue beating chess champion Garry Kasparov, or even IBM Watson beating the world’s greatest Jeopardy champions in 2011. Yet these victories, as mind-blowing as they seemed to be, were more about training algorithms and using brute-force computational strength than any real intelligence. Former MIT robotics professor Rodney Brooks, who was one of the founders of iRobot and later Rethink Robotics, reminded us at the TechCrunch Robotics Session at MIT last week that training an algorithm to play a difficult strategy game isn’t intelligence, at least as we think about it with humans. He explained that as strong as AlphaGo was at its given task, it actually couldn’t do anything else but play Go on a standard 19 x 19 board. He relayed a story that while speaking to the DeepMind team in London recently, he asked them what would have happened if they had changed the size of the board to 29 x 29, and the AlphaGo team admitted to him that had there been even a…


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