The Future of AI: From Quantum Computing to the Internet of Things – Outer Places

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Over the course of the hour, the discussion ranged from quantum computing and robotics to hacking and the ethics of creating sentient AI. Here are some of the highlights from the talk!

The Beginnings of AI: Early AI and Symbolic Reasoning

Joe Haldeman started off the discussion by talking about his experience with AI and symbolic reasoning courses during his college education, which covered philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. “I was studying AI before you guys were even born,” he joked.

He described writing out truth tables and learning quasi-algebraic logic, which allowed him to represent the “thought processes” of early computers. “I have faith in symbolic logic that I don’t have in natural language,” he said. “I won’t say it doesn’t lie, but when it lies, you can piece the truth out of it.”There’s something very elemental about writing out basic true-false equations for Haldeman: “I do know how to sit with a quasi-algebraic system and tease the truth out itit’s a feeling of power.”

Sentient AI and Quantum Computing

What gives a quantum computer its incredible, limit-breaking power is the qubit, which is analogous to the usual bits found in all computers, except that instead of a 1 and 0 state, a qubit can exist in a state that’s simultaneously 1 and 2 or neither.

This extra dimension allows for computational power that transcends current limits, opening the possibility for an artificial intelligence to grasp higher functions like self-awareness.

Hacking the Internet (of Things)

Paired with the introduction of hundreds of new, networked “smart” devices, from refrigerators to wearables to personal robots, the potential for hackers to take over a given device has grown exponentially in recent years.

Kelly cites the recent shutdown of a Facebook chatbot AIas an example of what happens when we lose control of AI: after trying to learn to communicate in English, the AI behind Facebook’s chat program decided that it would create its own, more efficient language, which was unintelligible to humans. When researchers realized what it was doing, they quickly shut it down.

The Promise of Sci-Fi and AI

As for the question of how close we are to realizing the kind of AI found in sci-fi and how safe we are from our darkest fears of robotic domination, Haldeman summed it up nicely: “This whole question shimmers between the uncomputable and the fictional. It’s a great place to start stories. These are existential stories-what is man? What are his computational limits?”

Stay tuned for more stories from Escape Velocity 2017!

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The Future of AI: From Quantum Computing to the Internet of Things – Outer Places

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