A Google AI 'godfather' says machines could match human abilities in 5 years

Geoffrey HintonYouTube/IPAMGeoffrey Hinton splits his time between Google and academia.

Geoffrey Hinton, an artificial intelligence (AI) expert who splits his time between Google and the University of Toronto, believes machines could match human abilities in five years.

Hinton, known as the godfather of “deep learning,” said the most powerful machines are still about a million times smaller than the human brain.

They only have the equivalent of around a billion synapses (the connections between the neurons in the brain), compared to 1,000 trillion in the human brain.

But machines are becoming more sophisticated every year.

When asked to predict how long it will take before machines possess human-level abilities, Hinton said: “More than five years. I refuse to say anything beyond five years because I don’t think we can see much beyond five years.”

He also commented on whether people should fear AI. “Any new technology, if it’s used by evil people, bad things can happen,” said Hinton. “But that’s more a question of the politics of the technology.”

He continued: “The main thing shouldn’t be, how do we cripple this technology so it can’t be harmful, it should be, how do we improve our political system so people can’t use it for bad purposes?”

The comments were made during an interview with Macleans off the back of Google DeepMind’s victory against AlphaGo.

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