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How Do We Know How Smart AI Systems Are?

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It is difficult to conclude from the evidence that AI systems, now or soon, will match or exceed human intelligence.


In 1967, Marvin Minksy, a founder of the field of artificial intelligence (AI), made a bold prediction: "Within a generation…the problem of creating 'artificial intelligence' will be substantially solved." Assuming that a generation is about 30 years, Minsky was clearly overoptimistic. But now, nearly two generations later, how close are we to the original goal of human-level (or greater) intelligence in machines?

Some leading AI researchers would answer that we are quite close. Earlier this year, deep-learning pioneer and Turing Award winner Geoffrey Hinton told Technology Review, "I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us. I think they're very close to it now and they will be much more intelligent than us in the future." His fellow Turing Award winner Yoshua Bengio voiced a similar opinion in a recent blog post: "The recent advances suggest that even the future where we know how to build superintelligent AIs (smarter than humans across the board) is closer than most people expected just a year ago."

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