Nick Bostrom, one of the leading voices on artificial intelligence, has singled out London research lab DeepMind as the company closest to developing a system that can mimic human-level artificial intelligence — a target widely shared by those at the forefront of the AI industry.
When asked who was leading the global AI race, Bostrom immediately responded with DeepMind. “Right now, I think here in London we have the DeepMind group who are, I think, the biggest [group] specifically focused on solving general intelligence,” Bostrom told Business Insider at a breakfast meeting aboard the Sunbourn Yacht Hotel in East London on Wednesday.
DeepMind, which employs approximately 250 people in King’s Cross, was acquired by Google in 2014 for a reported £400 million. The organisation is perhaps best known for developing an AI agent that defeated the world champion of the ancient Chinese board, Go. However, it’s now looking at applying its AI to other areas, including healthcare and energy management.
Bostrom, who heads up Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, named a number of other companies that are also aiming to develop general artificial intelligence. “Facebook has an effort,” he said. “Baidu has an effort. Then there are some others. There is also the OpenAI group, which is a non-profit funded by Elon Musk and others.”
Bostrom believes that machines will reach human levels of intelligence within the next few decades. When asked for a more precise date, he pointed to a survey carried out among AI experts recently that shows they think machines will be as intelligent as humans by the year 2040.
The Swedish philosopher explained that he was full of “hopes and fears” when asked whether he was optimistic or pessimistic about the impact AI will have on humanity. He expects the technology will be used for “good and bad.”
Bostrom’s comments were made ahead of a talk he gave on AI at the IP Expo conference. In a press conference after his talk, Bostrom once again called out DeepMind as the world leader when he was asked to pick just “one horse.”
Companies are using several different approaches on their mission to develop human-level intelligence but the jury is still out on which one will prove to be the most successful, said Bostrom.
DeepMind, for example, is using AI techniques involving neural networks, deep learning and reinforcement learning. A brief overview of these techniques can be listened to in this public lecture from DeepMind cofounder and CEO Demis Hassabis.
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