Computers have become so smart in the last 20 years that people do not think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures.
To make these quantum leaps from science fiction to reality, computer scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, and Yann LeCun required hard work. The trio used their own brain power to make it possible for machines to learn how to teach humans, a breakthrough commonly referred to today as "artificial intelligence" or AI.
Their insights and stubbornness were rewarded with the Turing Award on Wednesday, an honor that has been rewarded with it has become known as a version of the Nobel Prize technology industry. It's endowed with a $ 1 million prize, funded by Google, a company where AI has become part of its DNA.
The award is the recent recognition of the instrumental role that artificial intelligence is likely to play in redefining the relationship between humanity and technology over the coming decades.
"Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest growing areas of science and one of society's most debated topics," said Cherri Pancake, president of the Association of Computing Machinery, the group behind the Turing Prize.
Although Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have known each other for over 30 years, they usually work separately with the technology known as neural networks. These are the electronic engines that power things like facial and speech recognition, areas where computers have made tremendous progress over the last decade. Such neural networks are also a critical component of robotic systems that automate a variety of other human activities, including driving.
Their belief in the power of neural networks was once ridiculed by their peers, Hinton said. No more. He now works as Vice President and Senior Fellow at Google, LeCun is a senior AI scientist on Facebook. Bengio remains a professor at the University of Montreal in the academic field, serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec.
"For a long time, people believed that we were three nonsensical," Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. "They thought we were very misguided, and what we did was a surprising thing for seemingly smart people wasting their time." My message to young researchers is that you should not be put off by everyone telling you what dumb is. "
Well, some people are worried that the results of the researchers' efforts may be out of control.
While the AI revolution raises hopes that computers will make most people's lives more comfortable and enjoyable, it also raises the fear that humanity will eventually be at the mercy of machines.
Some of them share concerns with Bengio, Hinton and LeCun – particularly the doomsday scenarios that are developing AI technologies that have evolved into weapon systems that are wiping out humanity.
However, they are much more optimistic about the other perspectives of AI, which enable computers to provide more accurate warnings of floods and earthquakes. or detecting health risks, such as cancer and heart attacks, much sooner than doctors.
"One thing is very clear: the techniques we have developed can be used for a tremendous amount of good that affects hundreds of millions of people." Said Hinton.
Researchers make people think like computers
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Artificial Intelligence Pioneers Win the Nobel Prize in Technology (2019, March 27)
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