Google Co-Founders Talk Artificial Intelligence Just a Matter of Time

By Steve Anderson July 07, 2014

These days, when we look for technological advancement, many times we look in Google's direction. We do so not without good reason; consider the sheer number of advancements that Google has made or is making daily from the self-driving car to Project Loon. A recent interview between Google's co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, meanwhile, suggested that the next big advance in the field was likely to come from artificial intelligence. What Page and Brin had to say about such a development, meanwhile, was eye-opening to say the least.

While the Khosla interview covered several topics, one point became fairly clear in the whole affair, specifically, the issues of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Brin offered up the idea that we were nowhere near, as a society, being able to develop anything like human intelligence, but that may not remain the case much longer. Specifically, Brin noted that there are already several projects going on in the field of machine learning that attempts to replicate a human brain. Dubbed “the brain project,” the idea is to take the concept of machine learning and more tightly focus said concept, currently being used in not only the self-driving car concept, but also in “...a number of Google services.”

But beyond that, Brin noted, issues of “...more general intelligence...” also came into play. Brin specifically noted the DeepMind acquisition, suggesting that, theoretically, there may one day be full artificial intelligence in play. More specifically, Brin said “Obviously, computer scientists have been promising that for decades and not at all delivered. So I think it would be foolish of us to make prognoses about that. But we do have lots of proof points that one can create intelligent things in the world because — all of us around. Therefore, you should presume that someday, we will be able to make machines that can reason, think and do things better than we can.”

While Brin certainly has a point involving the rapid advancement of computer technology making for essentially a wild card of effects, there's a point that some like to raise that, in a way, limits the overall impact of a “true AI” system: sentience. The ability of a computer to actually achieve a human-like intelligence—perhaps the truest measure of an AI—would seem to be impossible right now. But then, betting against technology has been commonly shown to be a bad idea; history is littered with examples of people believing that something couldn't be done, or shouldn't be done, only to discover that it not only could but people had a huge interest in it when it was done.

It was safe to say that, in 1959, many likely thought we'd never land on the moon, yet in 1969, it was an accomplished fact that we had done just that. Granted, only time will tell if Brin is right here or if the naysayers will win the day, but the key point is that no one knows what will be discovered along the way to reaching that goal of artificial intelligence, including new technologies that Google may love to have a vested interest in.

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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