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AI leaders: Machines will quickly outsmart us when they achieve human-level intelligence


Nick Bostrom and Demis Hassabis

Machines will quickly become significantly smarter than humans when they achieve human level intelligence, according to a high-profile panel of artificial intelligence (AI) leaders.

A YouTube video released by the Future of Humanity Institute this week shows Elon Musk, the billionaire cofounder of Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal, talking on a panel earlier this month alongside the likes of DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, who sold his company to Google for £400 million in 2014, and Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom.

Musk and the rest of the panel were asked how long it will take for superintelligences to be developed when machines achieve human-level intelligence — something that is likely to happen within a matter of decades, according to Bostrom

"Once we get to human level-AI, how long before we get to where things start taking off?" asked MIT professor and panel moderator Max Tegmark, citing an "intelligence explosion." Tegmark added: "Some people say days or hours. Others envision it will happen but it might take thousands of years or decades."

Musk replied: "I think if it [an AI] reaches a threshold where it's as smart as the smartest, most inventive human, then it really could be a matter of days before it's smarter than sum of humanity."

Others on the panel predicted that it would more likely take several years for machines to become superintelligent but none of them said it will take more than 100 years.

ex machina movie artificial intelligence robot

"I think it partly depends on the architecture that end up delivering human-level AI," said Hassabis. "So the kind of neuroscience inspired AI that we seem to be building at the moment, that needs to be trained and have experience and other things to gain knowledge. It may be in the order of a few years, possibly even a decade."

Bostrom replied: "I think some number of years but it could also be much less."

Tegmark went on to say that "the timescale is something that makes a huge difference. If things happen quicker than society can respond then it's harder to steer and you kind of have to hope that you've built in good steering in advance."

He then asked the panel, which also included Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn and futurist Ray Kurzweil, whether they would like to see the onset of superintelligence occur gradually so that society can adapt.

"Slow is better than faster," Tallinn replied.

Last October, Bostrom said that DeepMind is winning the race to develop human-level AI. The company, which employs approximately 400 people in King's Cross, is perhaps best known for developing an AI agent that defeated the world champion of the ancient Chinese board, Go. However, it's also applying its AI to other areas, including healthcare and energy management.

View the full video here:

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