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Will Smart Machines Make ­S Stupid? AI Experts Weigh In

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A man scratches his head in perplexity.

One expert warned artificial intelligence could wind up making people "much smarter or much dumber."


Experts on artificial intelligence (AI) gathered for a panel discussion titled "AI State of the Union" on the future of the field this week at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX.

One of the main points of discussion was deep learning and the shift away from rule-based AI to pattern-based AI. Syntience CEO Monica Anderson compared it to a shift away from reasoning and toward intuition, noting the human brain devotes far more energy to the latter than the former.

Next IT Corp. CEO Fred Brown said one of the key challenges going forward will be finding ways to get AI to recognize context. Brown suggests one way to do this is to design AI to ask clarifying questions.

However, the most provocative stance was taken by former Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University professor Doug Lenat, now CEO of Cycorp, who warned advancing AI technology could make us, "become smarter or dumber--much smarter or much dumber." Lenat argued scientific calculators have made it easier for students to perform complex mathematical tasks quickly, but these students do not understand the underlying mathematical concepts. He also said Google dampens the need for independent thought and inquiry and warned advanced AI could create a society, "where no one has to understand anything about the world, where everything just seems like magic."

From The Wall Street Journal
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