Elon Musk Must Be Wringing His Hands, Again

Google develops computer program capable of learning tasks independently by Hannah Devlin.

From the post:

Google scientists have developed the first computer program capable of learning a wide variety of tasks independently, in what has been hailed as a significant step towards true artificial intelligence.

The same program, or “agent” as its creators call it, learnt to play 49 different retro computer games, and came up with its own strategies for winning. In the future, the same approach could be used to power self-driving cars, personal assistants in smartphones or conduct scientific research in fields from climate change to cosmology.

The research was carried out by DeepMind, the British company bought by Google last year for £400m, whose stated aim is to build “smart machines”.

Demis Hassabis, the company’s founder said: “This is the first significant rung of the ladder towards proving a general learning system can work. It can work on a challenging task that even humans find difficult. It’s the very first baby step towards that grander goal … but an important one.”

Truly a remarkable achievement.

I haven’t found a more detailed description of the strategies developed by the “agent,” but it would be interesting to try those out on retro computer games.

The post is a good one and worth your time to read.

It closes by contrasting Elon Musk’s fears of an AI apocalypse with Google’s assurance that any danger is decades away.

I take a great deal of reassurance from the “agent” being supplied with the retro video games.

The “agent” did not choose to become a master of Asteroids, with the intent of being the despair of all other gamers at the local arcade.

However good an “agent” may become, at any task, from video games to surgery, the question is who chooses for the task to be performed? Granting we probably want to lock out commands like: “Make me a suitcase size nuclear weapon.” and that sort of thing.

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