SingularityU: Artificial intelligence to transform every aspect of life
Artificial intelligence is set to transform the world, the audience at a Christchurch conference on the future was told.
Artificial intelligence (AI) "allows us to expand the range of the possible, to do things we never thought we could do before," said Neil Jacobstein who chairs the artificial intelligence and robotics track at Singularity University, a think tank based in California.
"AI is not just "faster, better, cheaper, it's different," he said.
Students will soon have personalised one-to-one AI tutors that will follow them through formal education and into adult life, he said. These web-based services and devices will learn how individuals learn and adapt their teaching style.
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AI will "blow the roof off of education," Jacobstein said.
Teachers, schools and tertiary education institutions will "co-evolve with technology, as they already have," he said in an interview.
Schools will teach softer, social skills, art, music and provide the "foundations of respect" into race, gender and the like. Universities will focus on close supervision and research
While the wealthy will access this technology first, the internet will bring this technology to the poor quickly. The developing world will also get access faster than previous digital technologies.
SingularityU NZ Summit is a three-day conference about exponential technology and how it will change human endeavour. Most of the speakers are Silicon Valley tech experts, although some Kiwis have addressed the crowd of about 1400 at Horncastle Arena.
"Voice will be a key transformation in coming years," Jacobstein predicted. He said that Siri, Apple's voice command software, is "crap" and much better technology is around the corner.
Home technology – from lights, temperature, video and the oven – will be controlled by voice commands.
Technology is being developed that could be a problem-solving utility. Users will use their voices to "delegate" the tech to undertake tasks 24/7.
Start-up technology company DeepMind used pattern recognition figured out how to play a primitive Atari computer game. It started with zero knowledge of the game. After 140 minutes it was performing at about the level of a competent human.
After 240 minutes of playing, it had figured how to win easily. Google bought the company for £500 million [$880m], he said.
AI is more than game-changing technology – it's total disrupting your business and the government, he said.
"If anyone tells you that AI is doom and gloom ... or it's great and has no downsides, they are cherry-picking the data," he said.
Profound technological change could create profound social problems. AI will "alter the world of work", destroying low skill, high routine jobs. White collar professional jobs are also "ripe for disruption".
He called for responsibility with AI. "We must put a premium on being able to build systems that are resilient so we don't have a bunch of angry, violent people," he said.
He called for ongoing education and, if needed, a universal basic income to ensure people could survive at a dignified level.
He recommended that NZ families and businesses start working with AI immediately. There are simple tools on the web and the average high school student could program them.