Sep 20, 2017

Google AI chief: Computers aren't as smart as children

Google exec John Giannandrea said a four-year-old child can do lots of things a computer can't. Photo courtesy of: Maven

Google executive John Giannandrea opined a couple years back that artificial intelligence had reached the level of a four-year-old child. But Giannandrea said on Tuesday, "I think I was over optimistic," noting that a four year-old child can do lots of things a computer can't.

Key points: Even young children can learn from just one or two strong examples while computers need lots of data for machine learning. Computers are also bad at transferring knowledge to adjacent tasks: if a kid is good at Pong, they will probably be good at Breakout — not so for computers.

Concerns about an AI apocalypse are overblown
  • A lot of people are "unreasonably" worried we are about to be taken over by general purpose AI, he said.
  • "I just see no evidence we are on the cusp of this," he said, arguing that sound bytes on the subject (he's talking about you, Elon Musk) have been "unwarranted and borderline" irresponsible.
2 key areas of machine learning where concern is warranted
  • Codification of bias: Google, he said, has released some tools to help analyze data and look for bias, but he said more attention to this topic is needed.
  • A lack of transparency around what the system is using to make decisions. "If somebody tries you sell you a black box and doesn't explain how it works I'd be very concerned."
Google product roadmap
  • Pervasive computing: There is a shift away from putting all of the smarts on the phone, he said. Google Home is a good example, with more to come over next couple years, Giannandrea added. (It was reported Tuesday that Google plans to introduce a smaller version of Google Home at an Oct. 4 event in San Francisco.)
  • Computer vision: Computers are getting very good at seeing and recognizing objects, he said, noting that it is a bit like speech recognition where it was predicted for years, but is finally a viable reality.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,463,392 — Total deaths: 344,503 — Total recoveries — 2,195,325Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,653,904 — Total deaths: 97,948 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

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The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

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