The Future of Artificial Intelligence

AI: Can we make a robot into a mensch?

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 If you use technology today, a smartphone, a computer, or any connected electronic device, then you are bound to be using artificial intelligence as part of the embedded software of that technology.  Here are just a few commonplace examples:

  • Google search
  • Voice recognition (Siri, Alexa, Cortana, again Google)
  • Netflix or Amazon predictive analytics as to purchases
  • Navigation apps like Waze (owned by Google), Google Maps, MapQuest (yes, remember this one?)
  • Modern video games: Super Mario Bros., NBA 2K (my son's favorite), Call of Duty, etc.
  • Fraud detection
  • Translation software

Behind all of this technology is a complex set of algorithms, computer processing units (CPUs), and computer servers with increasing levels of sophistication that are designed to accelerate that input and output of information, increasing the quality, complexity, and volume of interactions with our devices, and enhance our quality of life.
We are already living in the world of AI. Read, watch, and listen to the resources below in order to engage the past, present, and future of this world from a variety of perspectives.
So, what comes next? Where are we headed with AI, and what level of responsibility do the designers and providers have with managing AI technology? Will we control AI technology or will it control us? How do we handle the economic ramifications that are likely to be added to the existing stresses in our local, national, and global communities.
To come back to the title of this edition of YU Ideas, can we make AI, robots, etc. into the useful tools we intend them to be, with mensch-like attributes; or will it be a Golom that will rage beyond our control? I very much look forward to our community discussion on this topic.

Curated Sources

The Basics: AI
The Basics: What is AI?

What is Artificial Intelligence Exactly? Coldfusion. A short video from Coldfusion reviewing the basic definition and history of AI.

What’s the Difference Between Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning? Michael Copeland, Nvidia Blog. This blog post explains the difference between AI, machine learning, and the next step beyond all of this, “deep learning.”

How AI Can Bring On a Second Industrial Revolution, Kevin Kelly, TedTalks. In this TED Talk, Kevin Kelly, a well-regarded futurist, considers AI as a process of “cognification,” or making things smarter.


AI and Society
Next Steps: How is AI Impacting Society?

Rabbinic Artificial Intelligence? Babylonian Talmud; Sanhedrin 65b. An important source from classical rabbinic literature bearing on the human capacity to creating intelligent life.

How Judaism Predicted the First Humanoid Robot, Mark Goldfeder, CNN, A column for CNN written by YC and RIETS graduate Professor Mark Goldfeder which utilizes Sanhedrin 65b to examine how Jewish law determines the definition of being human.

The Robot Revolution Will Be the Quietest One, Liu Cixin, The New York Times. This essay explores the possibilities of both dystopian and utopian futures for AI.

This isn’t crying wolf: Machines will take white-collar jobs during the next administration, Martin Ford, Linkedin. In this post, bestselling author Martin Ford raises concerns over the inexorable spread of AI, and consequent replacement of human jobs. As my Yeshiva University colleague Andrew Catlin, Director of the MS in Data Analytics and Visualization, explained to me, some leaders in the tech industry and science, among them Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, are advocating for a robot tax to support incomes and offset the job losses.

The jobs we’ll lose to machines--and the ones we won’t, Anthony Goldbloom, TedTalks. In this TED Talk, tech entrepreneur Anthony Goldbloom explains which jobs will be vulnerable to replacement by AI, and which will not. See also: Jeremy Howard: the wonderful and terrifying implications of computer that can learn.

Triage, the Trolley Problem, and Automatic Cars: Choosing Who to Save, Rabbi Shmuel Reichman, YU Torah. In this audio lecture, Rabbi Shmuel Reichman explores some of the classic ethical dilemmas that automated technology will raise.

The Hype—and Hope—of Artificial Intelligence, Om Malik, The New Yorker. In this New Yorker article, Om Malik argues that AI may be overhyped and that we are far from a virtual human brain, that can decide independently of humans.


Deep Dive into frontiers of AI
Deep Dive: What are the Next Frontiers and Further Implications of AI?

DeepMind and Blizzard open StarCraft II as an AI research environment. An overview of the Google-owned DeepMind Lab, a first-person 3D game platform designed for research and development of general artificial intelligence and machine learning systems. 

Neuroscience-Inspired Artificial Intelligence, Demis Hassabis, Dharshan Kumaran, Christopher Summerfield, Matthew Botvinick; Neuron. An argument that research into brain activity and cognition can help advance AI.

What Happens When Our Computers Get Smarter Than We Are, Nick Bostrom, TedTalks. In this TED Talk, Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom wonders if AI is the last technology that humans will ever need to invent.