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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