It may sound like nothing more than a thrilling science fiction trope, but scientists who study artificial intelligence warn that AI singularity — a point when the technology irreversibly surpasses the capabilities of the human mind — is a real possibility, and some say it will happen within a few decades.
Surveys of AI experts, including this one published in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research in 2018, tend to find that a significant chunk of researchers think there’s at least a 50 percent chance that some people alive today will live to see an AI singularity. Some expect it within the next decade.
From Deep Blue to Siri
The moment AI reaches human-level intelligence will mark a profound change in the world. Such sophisticated AI could create more, increasingly advanced AI. At that point it might become difficult — if not impossible — to control.
For some background, AI caught the public’s attention in 1997 when a computer program called Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov (then the World Chess grandmaster) at his own game. More recently, the technology has been taught to drive cars, diagnose cancer and assist with surgery, among other applications. It can even translate languages and troll you on Twitter. And, of course, it also helps many of us search the web and map our way home.