Big Ideas of 2016: Augmenting Humanity with AI

At the beginning of 2016, artificial intelligence engineers passed a significant milestone: A computer won a “Go” match against a professional human player for the first time. It was a human victory disguised in human defeat, and set the tone for the year ahead—a year that pushed bots further, automation wider, and algorithms deeper. AlphaGo, a robot trained via machine learning techniques, imitates the way the human brain solves problems and learns from experience. That is, it was spoon-fed 30 million positions from 160,000 human-only rounds of the ancient Chinese game “Go,” then used that information to practice against itself and solidify its strategy. AlphaGo went on to beat the reigning European Go champion in a tournament five separate times. In March, it defeated world champion Lee Se-dol. Machine learning isn’t…

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