Welcome to Foresight For Development

Artificial Intelligence

Insight into Artificial Intelligence


Ray Kurzweil - author, computer scientist, inventor and futurist.

“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.”

Max Tegmark - President of the Future of Life Institute

“Everything we love about civilization is a product of intelligence, so amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before – as long as we manage to keep the technology beneficial.”

Stephen Hawking - English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.

”The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Barbara Grosz - Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

”Now is the time to consider the design, ethical, and policy challenges that AI technologies raise. If we tackle these issues now and take them seriously, we will have systems that are better designed in the future and more appropriate policies to guide their use.”

Eliezer Yudkowsky - Artificial intelligence researcher known for popularizing the idea of friendly artificial intelligence.

”By far, the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.”

Adam Frank - Co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester, a book author and a self-described "evangelist of science."

”Our machines don't need to become conscious to rewire our world. They just need to become intelligent enough. That day may be approaching us faster than we are preparing for it to arrive.”

Peter Stone - Computer scientist at the University of Texas, Austin

”We believe specialized AI applications will become both increasingly common and more useful by 2030, improving our economy and quality of life. But this technology will also create profound challenges, affecting jobs and incomes and other issues that we should begin addressing now to ensure that the benefits of AI are broadly shared.”

Nils J. Nilsson - Kumagai Professor of Engineering (Emeritus) in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University

”Artificial intelligence is that activity devoted to making machines intelligent, and intelligence is that quality that enables an entity to function appropriately and with foresight in its environment.”

Joanna Bryson - Computer scientist and visiting fellow at the Princeton University

”Basically what learning is about, including machine learning, is using the past to make predictions about the future.

You might be able to predict who will start dating or who will get divorced. You can figure out when people are going to have kids sometimes by just the stuff they buy and what neighborhoods they move into. You can figure out more and more intimate details and be able to predict what each other will do.

People are already getting really good at predicting what we are going to do and then manipulating that to get us to buy things, or to vote particular ways.”

Pieter Abbeel - Computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley

”AI for robotics will allow us to address the challenges in taking care of an aging population and allow much longer independence.

It'll enable drastically reducing, maybe even bringing to zero, traffic accidents and deaths. And enable disaster response for dangerous situations, for example, the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant.”

Shimon Whiteson - Associate professor at the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam

”I really think in the future we are all going to be cyborgs. I think this is something that people really underestimate about AI. They have a tendency to think, there's us and then there's computers. Maybe the computers will be our friends and maybe they'll be our enemies, but we'll be separate from them.

I think that's not true at all, I think the human and the computer are really, really quickly becoming one tightly-coupled cognitive unit.

Imagine how much more productive we would be if we could augment our brains with infallible memories and infallible calculators.

Society is already wrestling with difficult questions about privacy and security that have been raised by the internet. Imagine when the internet is in your brain, if the NSA can see into your brain, if hackers can hack into your brain.

Imagine if skills could just be downloaded — what's going to happen when we have this kind of AI but only the rich can afford to become cyborgs, what's that going to do to society?”

Yoky Matsuoka - Former Vice President of Technology at Nest

”I think the way I have been promoting AI as well as the next big space aspect for AI is to become really an assistant for humans. So making humans better, making what humans want to do and what humans want to be, easier to achieve with the help from AI.

What if I lost a limb and I can't swim as fast, what if an AI can actually know how to control this robotic limb that's now attached to me to quickly and efficiently let me swim?

Those are the ways, my brain is doing control but to an extent, things that I can't do anymore or things I want to be, if that part can be intelligently handled that's really great. It's almost like a partnership.”

Thomas Dietterich - President of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

”I think combinations of human and artificial intelligence are fascinating and have potential to create combined systems that are smarter than either alone. We already see this in many applications of AI — I'm smarter when I have access to Google.

Future systems may work via augmented reality or by giving us sensory abilities far beyond existing vision, hearing, and manipulation. For example, I hope that exoskeletons will allow me to walk when I am old and feeble. I hope that I can retain my sense of hearing and sight even as my eyes and ears fail.”

Stuart Russell - Computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley

”If you had a system that could read all the pages and understand the context instead of just throwing back 26 million pages to answer your query, that kind of program could actually answer the questions asked.

It'll be like if you asked a real question and got an answer from a person who had really read all those millions and millions and billions of pages and understood them and been able to synthesize all that information.

Everything we have of value as human beings, as a civilization, is the result of our intelligence and what AI could do is essentially be a power tool that magnifies human intelligence and gives us the ability to move our civilization forward in all kinds of ways.

It might be curing disease, it might eliminating poverty. I think it certainly should be preventing environmental catastrophe. AI could be instrumental to all those things.”

Oren Etzioni - CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence

”When we're talking about something that is at least 50 to 100, maybe even a thousand years away, it's very speculative. But when and if we have that, I would say that the sky's the limit.

All these things that we've contemplated, whether it's space travel or solutions to diseases that plague us, Ebola virus, all of these things would be a lot more tractable if the machines are trying to solve these problems.

I view today's computers as souped-up pencils but nowhere near the potential that they could have if they were able to perform effectively, much more sophisticated.”

Sabine Hauert - Roboticist at Bristol University

”I really think that robotics is going to improve the way we work, the way we live, and the way we explore new frontiers — if you think of the ocean, if you think of space. I think this will be done incrementally, because it's a hard thing to do.

I think it's going to also be integrated in the sense that you might have a robot car, but you're not going to think of it as an AI or a robot, you're going to think of it as a car.

A lot of these things that we'll be introducing will be seen as helpful technologies, just like your cell phone is a helpful technology, but not as lots of robots entering our work or entering our homes. They'll just be seen as smarter tech.”

Hector Geffner - Researcher at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra

”One significant change will be socialization. The movie "Her" goes in that direction.

We are social beings and need people around, but increasingly, in some societies, many people seem to be more comfortable dealing with people through machines — through mobile, messenger, etc — than in person.

As machines get more intelligent and can better adapt to its "users," people may end up preferring dealing with machines than with people. Of course, this says something about who we are.”

Carlos Guestrin - CEO and co-founder of Dato

”Computers and humans are very different in terms of how they think about the world. I think what's going to be most profound is our impact, positive and negative but mostly positive, on the kind of almost symbiotic relationship between humans and technology.

We've already seen that. I'm sure you have a smartphone today and you can see a lot of people experiencing the world through their smartphones, in some negative ways.

But also in positive ways, it's helped us, made us more connected to people that we love, made it easier for us to maintain contact with information, keep track of what's happening in the world, figure out what restaurants go to next, where to watch movies. It's really augmented our understanding of what the world is.”

Matthew Taylor - Computer scientist at Washington State University

”As we have more of the population growing older, the better we can enable them to stay in their homes longer, the more happy they are, and the healthier they are, the better it is for the whole healthcare system.

We can have more home robots that can help people with these activities of daily living: Making sure people take their medicine, helping them prepare their food, making sure that if they don't get out of bed someone is notified.

I think all of that is pretty low hanging fruit — stuff that will be easy to develop in the next few years. It will really cause a big change to that population, allowing them higher quality of life and also letting them stay in their homes longer.”

Murray Shanahan - Computer scientist at Imperial College

”A very important implication of the kind of AI technology that's coming soon will be in the area of personalized medicine. A great application of machine learning technology applied to big data is in personalized medicine.

If everybody's genome is sequenced, and their medical records are in very fine detail, and you have access to an enormous quantity of clinical studies and so on, it's possible, thanks to machine learning, to match up very very carefully individual problems with very specialized treatments that are tailored for exactly that kind of person.

At the moment, medicine is very statistical and treatments are tailored for large populations and not for the individual so I think that will have a dramatic effect.”

Yoshua Bengio - Computer scientist at University of Montreal

”A computer that better understands what we want and does things for us could have a huge impact on the billions of people on the Earth who aren't even able to interact with a computer because they can't read or write.

There are lots and lots of people that don't have access to knowledge because they don't know how to read and write, and don't have access to a computer.

If computers are able to converse in natural language and really understand what people are asking and give sensible answers it might really have a big impact on all of these people that currently don't benefit from the kind of technology that we do.”

Lynne Parker - Division director for the Information and Intelligent Systems Division at the National Science Foundation

”AI could open us up to the ability to be creative and to really think broadly because it can relieve us of some meaningless jobs.

I think there's a potential there if we seize the opportunity to be relieved from everyday mundane things to do things that are more impactful and really more human, more intelligent, more creative.

Whether or not we will seize the day, as they say, is a question to be answered.”

Toby Walsh - Professor in AI at the National Information and Communications Technology Australia

”I think we're going to see similar profound changes in the nature of work, as much as that work can be automated even further by computers. It's hard to think of a job that a computer ultimately won't be able to do as well if not better than we can do.

That's going to require profound changes within society in terms of are we going to work a shorter working week? How are we going to distribute the wealth that this generates?

This is a challenge not for scientists but one for society to address, of how are we going to work through these changes.

One of the great challenges is that computers and AI as a technology are very quickly adopted. The great thing about computers is that you can reproduce the software almost at no cost. So once we have the technology it gets very easy to reproduce the technology and disseminate it.

The changes that we see precipitated by changes in computing are ones that tend to happen very very quickly. The challenge there is that society tends to change rather slowly.”

Bart Selman - Computer scientist at Cornell University

”The US and I think most of the world has pushed hard on this idea of knowledge workers — you should get an education, you should educate yourself and stay ahead of the changing world. That may become actually become somewhat difficult.

It's a sudden switch, when something becomes cheaper, when the self-driving car becomes cheaper than the human driver, immediately the whole system will flip around, and say just sell self-driving cars.

When a AI-based medical doctor becomes cheaper, why not switch all medical doctors to smart computer programs and have a few remaining human specialists for very special cases.

That's sort of one of the risks that AI people are worried about. It's a societal risk. Society will have to adapt. How we will adapt is not fully clear yet. But I think it's something we'll have to think about.”

Michael Littman - Computer scientist at Brown University

”What people have when people are born is this sort of ability, this is how economists think about us anyways, is that we have the ability to carry out labor.

So there's two kinds of wealth in the world, there's labor and there's capital. We aren't born with capital but we can start to amass it over time and that gives us economic power and so forth. But the only thing that we have at our disposal, at least from the beginning, is labor.

We can turn machines into workers — they can be labor, and that actually deeply undercuts human value. My biggest concern at the moment is that we as a society find a way of valuing people not just for the work they do.

We need to value each other first and foremost. Make it clear that the machines that we're talking about are machines to benefit everybody and not just the people that have them.”

Foresight For Development - Funding for this uniquely African foresight site was generously provided by Rockefeller Foundation. Email Us | Creative Commons Deed | Terms of Conditions

Top Desktop version