What will machine learning look like in twenty years?

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What will machine learning look like 15-20 years from now? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Machine Learning is a very rapidly moving field, so it’s hard to make predictions about the state of the art 6 months from now, let alone 15 – 20 years. I can however, offer a series of educated guesses based on what I see happening right now.

We are still far away from AGI. Current generation machine learning systems are still very far away from something that could legitimately be called artificial “intelligence”. The systems we have right now are phenomenal at pattern recognition from lots of data (even reinforcement learning systems are mostly about memorizing and recognizing patterns that worked well during training). This is certainly a necessary step, but it is very far away from an intelligent system. In analogy to human cognition, what we have now is analogous to the subconscious processes that allow split second activation of your sympathetic nervous system when your peripheral vision detects a predator approaching or former significant other turning around a corner – in other words, pattern-based, semi-automatic decisions that our brain does “in hardware”. We don’t currently have anything I can see that would resemble intentional thought and I’m not convinced we’ll get to it from current generation systems.

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The job market in year 2040

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As a futurist, I’m often asked about the future of jobs. It is a concern for policy-makers, employers and the general population alike. What I realized, however, is that no one cares about losing the job itself. What they are worried about is how they will make a living in a future where they have become obsolete.

And yes, the fear of artificial intelligence (AI) is real. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates AI can automate 50% of all paid tasks today. Our primitive machine learning AI can easily complete repetitive human tasks better than any human could, including recognizing speech, context, shapes, and images. These narrow AI can also complete tasks like navigating an unpredictable field of obstacles, play an instrument, analyze large amounts of unorganized data and more. In 2021, AI will safely complete repetitive tasks with random components, like driving vehicles on crowded streets better than any human driver.

The speed at which AI is improving is astounding. The smart software is improving at an exponential rate since our software engineers use older versions of AI to help them program AI software updates.

In fact, developments in AI is so impressive and there is so much money invested by major well-known multinationals right now that most AI experts expect a human-level AI to emerge before the year 2040.

What will happen to the job market between now and the year 2040?

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Artificial Intelligence is not a technology

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People have long dreamed of the idea of machines having the intelligence and capabilities of humans. From the early Greek myths of Hephaestus and his automatons to the Golem of Eastern European Jewish tradition to well over a hundred years of science fiction stories, novels and movies, our human imaginations have envisioned what it would be like to have sentient, intelligent, human-like machines co-exist with us. In 1920 Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) first coined the word “robot” and gave us a name to give to the creations of our imaginations. In many ways, the quest for the intelligent machine lead to the development of the modern computer. Ideas by Alan Turing not only formulated the basis of programmable machines, but also the core of the concepts of artificial intelligence, with the namesake Turing Test providing a means for evaluating intelligent machines.

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A.I and the Road to Superintelligence

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“We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth.” -Vernor Vinge

If you’re like me, you used to think Artificial Intelligence was a silly sci-fi concept, but lately you’ve been hearing it mentioned by serious people, and you don’t really quite get it. Here’s why it’s so incredibly important.

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