Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc can’t seem to get on smoothly as both firms engage in rivalry in the AI field. On Wednesday, DeepMind, an AI research group within Alphabet revealed that its AlphaGo AI program has mauled the European human champion of the ancient Chinese game of go. Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg opined that humans have nothing to fear from AI and his personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI “to help run my home and help me with work”.
Alphabet is deeply involved in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as most of the major tech firms show a degree on interest in the AI space. Tesla Motors has AI at work in the Autopilot feature for its Model S and Model X, Apple has a level of AI at work in Siri, Microsoft has AI at work in Cortana, and Facebook has M.
Alphabet’s AlphaGo Mauls European Go champion
The New York Times report that Alphabet’s DeepMind AI research group has created a program that thrashed a high-ranking European Go champion, Fan Hui in a series of 5 matches. The ancient Chinese game of Go is considered an excellent test for AI researchers because it is more complex than chess, with a far larger range of possible positions. In fact, the game requires a deeper level of reasoning and strategic thinking.
The DeepMind team combined its “deep neural networks” with a traditional type of algorithm known as a Monte Carlo, which can explore large data sets for probable outcomes. The DeepMind team, led by Demis Hassabis, a former child chess prodigy, who is VP of engineering at Alphabet’s DeepMind and head of Alphabet’s general A.I. efforts, thinks that AlphaGo has picked up intuition.
Intuition is the knowledge obtained without conscious reasoning and AlphaGo has shown that it can make decisions based on instinct. Alphabet wants to test the level of intuition in its AI program and it has set up a match between its AlphaGo AI program and Lee Sedol, the current Go champion, for a five-game match in March. The stakes for the game between man and machine are high – the game will be streamed live on YouTube and the winner gets $1M prize.
Should humans fear AI?
One of the biggest issues that AI experts must clear in the mind of the media and the public are doomsday portrayal of AI ganging up to eliminate humans as seen in some movies. This is especially true when you consider the fact that some strong voices in the tech space have warned about the dangers of a “conscious” AI system. Stephen Hawking has been quoted saying “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” — The fact that AI can now beat the best humans in the complex game of Go also raises concerns about how much of AI is too much.
However, Facebook ‘s Zuckerberg thinks that humans have no reason to fear AI. In a Facebook post on Wednesday, he maintained “We should not be afraid of AI. Instead, we should hope for the amazing amount of good it will do in the world. It will saves lives by diagnosing diseases and driving us around more safely… It will help in areas we haven’t even thought of today.