Channel: Artificial Intelligence
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This one paragraph will make you appreciate your brain — and laugh at artificial intelligence


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Google has just reached a milestone for artificial intelligence (AI). AlphaGo, a program designed by the company's DeepMind AI division, just beat Lee Sedol, a world champion Go player.

It's another entry in a growing list of computers that can beat us at our own games.

While we're (unfairly) quick to cede our human shortcomings to the unblinking precision of computers, however, our brains are really good at something current AI can't quite crack: Thinking.

We can process our thoughts at a level unparalleled by anything else we've come across, living or artificial. And we can do it with remarkable efficiency.

One of the best characterizations of just how ill-equipped modern artificial intelligence is comes from the creator of the "Jeopardy"-dominating IBM Watson computer, Dave Ferrucci.

As The Atlantic wrote:

"He likes to tell crowds that whereas Watson played using a room’s worth of processors and 20 tons of air-conditioning equipment, its opponents relied on a machine that fits in a shoebox and can run for hours on a tuna sandwich. A machine, no less, that would allow them to get up when the match was over, have a conversation, enjoy a bagel, argue, dance, think—while Watson would be left humming, hot and dumb and un-alive, answering questions about presidents and potent potables."

That's not to say that current AI is necessarily weak, though. It depends if you take more of a generalist or specialist perspective.

On one hand, machines are nowhere near competing with the wide range of humanity's achievements — which only required some food, water, and oxygen to pull off.

On the other hand, AI definitely has us beat when it comes to things like precision computing and processing power. This makes machines really good at specialized tasks.

A Kiva robot moves a rack of merchandise at an Amazon fulfillment center on January 20, 2015 in Tracy, California.

AI systems are also getting better at learning. A program from Stanford University, for example, figured out how to fly a model helicopter at world champion level in mere hours just by watching. Others are processing boxes in Amazon warehouses and translating our speech almost instantly.

But something more nuanced, artistic, and human, like writing, is still hilariously bad when done by AI, so you probably won't have to worry about robots stealing our jobs anytime soon — or at least all of them, anyway.

SEE ALSO: 'WE MADE HISTORY': Google's DeepMind AI just beat a human world champion at Go

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