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Published on Feb 26, 2016
Rich Sutton presents as part of the UBC Department of Computer Science's Distinguished Lecture Series, February 25, 2016.
When mankind finally comes to understand the principles of intelligence and how they can be embodied in machines, it will be the most important discovery of our age, perhaps of any age. In recent years, with progress in deep learning and other areas, this great scientific prize has begun to appear almost within reach. Artificial superintelligences are not imminent, but they may well occur within our lifetimes. The consequences, benefits, and dangers for humanity have become popular topics in the press, at public policy meetings (e.g., Davos) and at scientific meetings; luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have weighed in. Is it all hyperbole and fear mongering, or are there genuine scientific advances underlying the current excitement? In this talk, I try to provide some perspective on these issues, informed and undoubtedly biased by my 38 years of research in AI. I seek to contribute to the conversation in two ways: 1) by seeing current developments as part of the longest trend in AI---towards cheaper computation and thus a greater role for search, learning, and all things meta, and 2) by sketching one possible path to AI (the one I am currently treading) and what it might look like for it to succeed.