The scientists have been wrong about robots with better-than-human intellgence before of course but this time they are sure they have it right (just as sure as they were all the other times when they got it hopelessly wrong).
Not long after the first modern computers evolved from bead boards via medieval water clocks in the 1940s, the science-is-God brigade started predicting that in just a few years / decades machines would be as smart as humans or more likely smarter than humans. Every year someone comes along and says the same but the prediction gets pushed back another year. The consensus now, according to a survey, is that it’s going to happen in … you guessed it, just a few more decades.
There may be more reason to believe the predictions today. After research that’s produced everything from self-driving cars (well not quite cars and not quite self driving) to Jeopardy!-winning supercomputers, scientists have a much better understanding of what they’re up against. And, perhaps, what we’re up against.
Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, laid out the best predictions of the artificial intelligence (AI) research community in his new book, “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Here are the combined results of four surveys of AI researchers, including a poll of the most-cited scientists in the field, totalling 170 respondents who were asked:
So if Human-level machine intelligence is defined as “a machine that can carry out most human professions at least as well as a typical human, then the only answer to the question ‘when will human level machine intelligence be available’ is “haven’t a clue, probably never”. Unless of course we were to redefine what we mean as intelligence, equating it to an ability to parse vast amounts of digital information amazingly quickly and match defined binary strings.
If however we were to ask “When will computers be as clever as scientists,” the answer is “In evolutionary terms, computers are already a couple of million years ahead. A computer would never commit the folly of trying to design an intelligent scientist.”
When The Robots Rule The World