Tech company heads weigh in on the advent of artificial intelligence

Leading executives from major tech companies all predicted how disruptive AI would become in the short term future.


At Recode's Code conference this year, it was all about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Leading executives from major tech companies all predicted how disruptive self-aware computers would become in the short term future.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla said humans need to put in neural laces, or USB cables into human brains to keep up with artificial intelligence. This seems to be more like the Pandoran neural network than any of the machines we know of that exist today. Musk also said that there was only one company that had truly disruptive artificial intelligence companies, but did not name the company directly. On a bit of prodding, Musk appeared to imply that this company was Google.

 Tech company heads weigh in on the advent of artificial intelligence

Google Home

Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed more plans for Google Home. Google Home is Google's smart voice controlled smart home hub, a product to compete with the Amazon Echo. Pichai revealed that Google Home would have an incognito mode, where no interaction is logged or kept track of, similar to the mode available in the chrome browser. Pichai also revealed the reason why Google Now does not have a personality like Siri or Cortana. This personality would emerge personally, for every user, making a distinct artificial intelligence assistant for each user.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty prefers the term "cognitive system" instead of "artificial intelligence". Rometty said that cognitive systems could be anywhere that uses computers right now. Healthcare, financial services and education were some important examples. IBM's Watson has a long track record of achievements, including being hired by a law firm, working as a personal fitness trainer and perhaps the most challenging one, going to college. According to Rometty, Watson would be plugged into systems invisibly without the end user even being aware of its presence. It would be a component of a bigger system, instead of a monolithic intelligent system in itself. The AI is being nurtured for increased capabilities.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that Alexa and the associated hardware platform Echo, is being worked on by over 1,000 developers. Bezos said that they have been working behind the scenes for years, and that the data of large corporations can be better used to leverage artificial intelligence applications. This would also allow for huge advances in the field. What we are seeing in artificial intelligence right now, is apparently only the tip of the iceberg.

Facebook's engineering director for machine learning Hussein Mehanna, talked about how Deep Text is going to understand the content of posts, and leverage that understanding to better deliver the content where it is required. Instead of a set of tags and keywords, the metadata attached to content would now be context. Right now Facebook Messenger understands when users want to hire a taxi, or when users want to sell something. Facebook wants to add to the list of actions it can take based on contextual understanding of interpersonal communication.

Even Bill Gates showed up, and said that artificial intelligence applications were what years of Microsoft work was leading up to, and that the dream was finally arriving. He noted a couple of major issues with the advent of artificial intelligence. One was that humans would lose jobs and we would need to change what kind of training we give to people right from schools. The other was keeping the machines in control.

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