The “Father of Artificial Intelligence” Says Singularity Is 30 Years Away

You’ve probably been told that the singularity is coming. It is that long-awaited point in time — likely, a point in our very near future — when advances in artificial intelligence lead to the creation of a machine (a technological form of life?) smarter than humans.

If Ray Kurzweil is to be believed, the singularity will happen in 2045. If we throw our hats in with Louis Rosenberg, then the day will be arriving a little sooner, likely sometime in 2030. MIT’s Patrick Winston would have you believe that it will likely be a little closer to Kurzweil’s prediction, though he puts the date at 2040, specifically.

But what difference does it make? We are talking about a difference of just 15 years. The real question is, is the singularity actually on its way?

At the World Government Summit in Dubai, I spoke with Jürgen Schmidhuber, who is the Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at AI company NNAISENSE, Director of the Swiss AI lab IDSIA, and heralded by some as the “father of artificial intelligence” to find out.

He is confident that the singularity “is just 30 years away, if the trend doesn’t break, and there will be rather cheap computational devices that have as many connections as your brain but are much faster,” he said.

Imagine a cheap little device that can compute as much data as all human brains taken together. Well, this may become a reality in just 50 years from now. “And there will be many, many of those. There is no doubt in my mind that AIs are going to become super smart,” Schmidhuber says.

Image Credit: Randall Bruder/Futurism

Today, the world faces a number of hugely complex challenges, from global warming, to the refugee crisis. These are all problems that, over time, will affect everyone on the planet, deeply and irreversibly. But the real seismic change, one that will influence the way we respond to each one of those crises, will happen elsewhere.

“It is much more than just another industrial revolution. It is something that transcends humankind and life itself.”

“All of this complexity pales against this truly important development of our century, which is much more than just another industrial revolution.” Schmidhuber says. “It is something that transcends humankind and life itself.”

When biological life emerged from chemical evolution, 3.5 billion years ago, a random combination of simple, lifeless elements kickstarted the explosion of species populating the planet today. Something of comparable magnitude may be about to happen. “Now the universe is making a similar step forward from lower complexity to higher complexity,” Schmidhuber beams. “And it’s going to be awesome.”

Like with biological life, there will be an element of randomness to that crucial leap between a powerful machine and artificial life. And while we may not be able to predict exactly when, all evidence points to the fact that the singularity will happen.

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U.S. intelligence agencies are still warning against buying Huawei and ZTE phones

The Best Guide To Selling Your Old Phones With High Profit

 Things are still looking pretty bleak for Huawei’s plans to conquer the U.S. market. Earlier this week, half a dozen top members of intelligence agencies, including the FBI, CIA and NSA reaffirmed surveillance concerns about the company and fellow Chinese smartphone maker ZTE. All of this is nothing new, of course. The companies’ troubles date back at least as far back as 2012,… Read More
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Adobe Aims to Redefine Content Intelligence to ‘Transform Customer Experiences’

A recent Adobe survey of U.S. consumers revealed people spend on average 7.8 hours per day engaging with digital content — a figure that jumps to 11.1 hours per day among teenagers.

According to a provided statement from Adobe, brands must produce, execute and iterate on compelling content at ever-increasing velocity to engage with consumers, which is not an easy feat. To solve for these challenges, Adobe today unveiled tighter integrations and seamless workflows between creatives, marketers and data analysts in Adobe Experience Manager, part of Adobe Marketing Cloud in Adobe Experience Cloud.

These advances better enable brands to reach consumers across the full range of devices and channels. Adobe Sensei, the company’s AI and machine learning framework, further automates the delivery of personalized content, empowering marketers to work smarter and faster. New ways to pull creative content instantaneously from Adobe Creative Cloud into Marketing Cloud let brands integrate content and data more closely and deliver a seamlessly integrated experience.

“Content will always play an integral role in building brand loyalty, with personalization, authenticity and design reigning supreme,” said Aseem Chandra, senior vice president, Digital Experience Strategic Marketing at Adobe. “The new content capabilities we are announcing today empower brands to deliver digital experiences that delight consumers and uniquely integrate content and data.”

To learn more about about Experience Manager’s new intelligent content capabilities, click here.

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New MIT Project to Probe Mysteries of Human Intelligence

MIT last week launched the MIT Intelligence Quest, an initiative to find out how human intelligence works, in engineering terms, and how a deeper grasp of human intelligence can be applied to building wiser and more useful machines. Life scientists, computer scientists, social scientists and engineers will collaborate in the effort. “Human intelligence is turning out to be very complex, involving emergent properties that arise from complex computational networks,” noted Michael Jude, research manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

Artificial Intelligence Can Support Killer Viruses in the War Against Superbugs

Going Viral

Several U.S.-based biotechnology companies are developing ways to harness the power of genetics as well as AI in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Their ally? Viruses. More specifically, bacteriophages, usually just called phages.

We’ve been treating patients who have potentially life-threatening bacterial infections with these viruses for a long time, but typically only as a last resort. Phage therapy is imperfect in practice because it can be difficult to identify the bacteria, find the right treatment, and administer it before the patient succumbs. The potential of the process lies in whether it could be sped up without sacrificing accuracy or safety, which is exactly what many researchers are attempting to do.

The Resistance

Bacteria may be small, but they’re capable of wreaking great havoc on a population. The World Health Organization knows the potential of the pathogens should not be underestimated and has deemed antibiotic-resistant bacteria to be one of the most pressing global health concerns today.

For scientists, understanding how and why bacteria become resistant to the drugs we use to treat them is only the first step. In addition to the fact that the treatments we have today are becoming less effective, we also know that we just don’t have enough of them. And given the rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant to the limited options we currently have, global public health depends on these advances coming sooner rather than later.

Bacteria: Friend or Foe

The good news is, we know quite a bit about bacteria. The single-celled organisms have existed alongside (and inside) humans for the entirety of our shared history. Humans enjoy a great deal of symbiosis with the bacteria that live in our gut, for example. Much of the bacteria that live on our skin are more friend than foe; at the very least, they don’t harm us. Often they even help. It’s disease-causing bacteria that we have to protect ourselves against.

If you have a sore throat and fever, you might go to your doctor for a strep test. If it comes back positive for Streptococcus bacteria, you’ll be prescribed a course of antibiotics. These drugs either kill bacteria outright or make it difficult for them to continue to multiply. We’ve been using antibiotics in one form or another for a long time, and they have been very effective against a number of bacteria that sicken humans. The problem is, that’s changing. Because bacteria are changing — and they’re doing so faster than we can change the drugs in response.

Bacteria become resistant to drugs in a number of ways: sometimes by changing themselves to resist the effect of the antibiotic and survive it, and other times, by “neutralizing” the drug itself, rendering it ineffective. The more a bacterium gets exposed to a certain drug, the more opportunities it has to find a way to defend itself. It only takes a single bacterium figuring out how to survive an antibiotic for resistance to spread: when it divides and multiplies, it passes its survival strategy on.

Getting to the root of antibiotic resistance may well mean infiltrating the pathogens. To do that, scientists need something smaller, yet still powerful. That’s where viruses come in.

A Tech Boost

Advances in one field of science and technology often lend themselves to solving a problem in another. Techniques in genetic engineering and DNA sequencing, for example, have opened doors to life-saving treatments and feats of medicine that seem nearly miraculous.

Whether culling through data or assisting in surgery, robots and computers are partnering with humans to improve public health. Page therapy, which up until now has only achieved partial success, could be one of the main beneficiaries of this evolving partnership.

For example, the startup AmpliPhi Biosciences, is working to sequence the genome of disease-causing bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus so they can identify the best bacteriophages for the task of defeating them, assemble them into a treatment that would be ready-made and available to patients as soon as they need them.

Another startup, Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, is working on a machine learning algorithm that could process the genetic data of the bacteria and phage much more quickly than current methods (which take hours, if not days). Once the system is trained, it will be able to match the most effective phage to a particular bacteria.

“When a patient is critically ill, every minute is important,” Adaptive Phage Therapeutics CEO Greg Merril told MIT Technology Review. Time is of the essence not just for patients who are already sick, but to everyone around the world who is vulnerable.

Both AmpliPhi Biosciences and Adaptive Phage Therapeutics are planning clinical trials, which may even begin this year. As the threat of antibiotic-resistance grows, the results can’t come soon enough.

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