Artificial Intelligence has advanced much more than predictions suggested in the 80’s movies. We are living in an era where people are not just using technology, but breathing it as well. Smartphones, intelligent fire-alarms, intuitive strategy games, fully-automated assembly lines and so on. A more challenging implementation of AI can be seen in Window’s Cortana, iPhone’s Siri and Google’s driverless car, whereby the search engine itself is known to dream, which is a thinking proof of a very advanced AI.
The latest reports reveal that this evolution of AI technology has suddenly become a subject of increased interest, especially for the giant internet companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. They are buying new companies, founding new AI labs and rounding up AI experts from around the world, so what’s the story?
Are Page, Gates and Zuckerberg Not Afraid of Terminators?
Genius scientist Stephen Hawking and elite businessman Elon Musk have announced that the intelligent machines will be the end of man. Profession Yann LeCun is a master AI developer and researcher, who has recently been recruited by Facebook as the director of its AI research division, counters such claims. He places two simple logical reasons; 1st they are not AI experts and 2nd that they speak of a far far future.
According to Yann LeCun, our current technology is miles away from creative intelligent machines that will turn against humanity. New innovations are improving AI by designing more efficient circuits based on the biological neural networks. It’s happening at a slow rate and compared to human brain our current computers are “on par with very small animals, so nothing like what we would think as humans.”
Hence, they lack the basic characters of a foe, which in a mission to destroy humanity must be able to think, plan, reason and make wise decisions. In their current capacities, we have seen computers recognize faces, translate texts, voices and languages; which is decent but not good enough to take on humans as adversaries.
So Why Facebook is Investing in Artificial Intelligence?
Facebook wants what Google wants, what everybody wants… to make the user experience better and better. How is AI relevant in this case? Let’s take the example of the giant search engine first: As you type in the text to search something, Google flashes a drop down menu with suggestions and if you haven’t noticed, these suggestions improve based on your search history. This is made possible by the virtue of the Google search engine’s intuitive programming that enables it to learn users’ behavior and preference.
Likewise, Facebook wants to improve users’ experience by automating the management-oriented tasks that Facebook users perform on the daily basis. An undertaking called M Project is already in experimental stages, which will be a virtual assistance to rival the likes of Siri. It will be able to solve users’ problems and answer their question, and where the assistant will fail to answer something, it will be automatically sent to experts on the backend.
The idea is that through this aided assistance to the yet nameless M Project assistant will help the program learn from the answers provided by experts and theoretically a point will know the answer to virtually everything. For years, scientists have dreamed about robots that can take over household jobs, clerical work etc. Now we know that it is starting.
Facebook’s mission is to bring people closer to each other in a digital globalization. The company’s recent announcement to provide the internet to low access area from space is outlandish and part of the same vision: to increase its audience. The other way of doing it would be to make the platform so user-friendly that people wouldn’t be able to live without its convenience. Perhaps, Mark’s planning to complete the second part first, by making Facebook more intelligent.
What’s In It For The Other Tech Giants?
Well, Google could do the same for the sake of Google+ but Page’s incentives have expanded with the advent of Alphabet. Android, powering 80% of the world’s smartphones could be the major target, because it is becoming the ultimate gateway for the company to help drive the users towards Google’s core services. Android Marshmallow 6.0 is how we know this is might be the case, which didn’t take long to arrive at the stores while Lollipop was still new and selling like pie.
Microsoft recently announced that HoloLens is coming to your homes in 2016 (for developers in the beginning), which has to be the most concise example of artificial intelligent behavior. Meanwhile, Apple has already created a successful AI assistant known as Siri, which it must improve further because Facebook is about to crash it directly against the breeding product M Project.
The sudden interest of powerful internet and software companies in AI is very reasonable, considering the rapid pace at which new technology is replacing the old one. It’s not about pursuing targets anymore and has turned into a race, in which decisions are made by not looking into just tomorrow, but the years afterward. Intelligent devices and services are soon going to dominate the global tech and internet market. Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft can see it coming and are racing to get there first.