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Eric Schmidt: Advances in AI will make every human better

Eric SchmidtGoogle DeepMindAlphabet chairman Eric Schmidt.

Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, believes that breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) will make every human on the planet better in some way.

Speaking in South Korea on Tuesday, Schmidt said: “Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning will make each and every other human being in the entire world, smarter, more capable, better human beings.”

Other powerful tech leaders and scientists including PayPal founder Elon Musk and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking have warned that advances in artificial intelligence should be treated with caution, with Hawking going as far as to say that AI could spell the end of mankind.

Schmidt’s comments were made in Seoul, where Google subsidiary company DeepMind, a London AI startup, is about to pit its “AlphaGo” algorithm against Lee Sedol — the best player “Go” player in the world. Go is a Chinese boardgame with billions of possible moves that has been impossible for machines to master.

“I’ve concluded that the winner here, no matter what happens, is humanity,” Schmidt said, referring to DeepMind as a “brilliant company” that has been created by three of his “friends.”

He added: “This is a great day for humanity and this week we do not know who will win but we know at the end humans will be smarter and the world will be a much better place because of all the things all of us are doing to make this technology viable.”

Developments in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) have been slow during Schmidt’s lifetime, the billionaire and former Google CEO continued.

“I have been a computer scientist for my whole life,” said Schmidt. “In the 1960s there was great hope that we would be able to do the things that we’re going to do this week. But for 30 years, a time that is called the artificial intelligence winter, people made all of these claims and nothing happened. People tried and they tried and they tried.

“But in the last decade, there has been a huge increase in steps forward for a number of reasons: new algorithms, faster computers, many more people, more money.”

Schmidt highlighted how people use AI in many ways today, pointing to a number of Google services that are underpinned by AI, including Google Image Search and Google Translate.

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