Will AI take over the world?

Every now and then someone famous praises or worries about AI. Will it solve all the problems; make war, famine, and disease a thing of the past? Or will it take over and enslave humans, a la The Matrix or Colossus.

No one flies around or stops time in Colossus, but the computer does run the world and it is 30 years earlier. The creator tries to disable Colossus but that proves difficult because it sees and hears everything. So the creator tells it that he needs private time with his mistress when what he really wants to do is plot pulling the plug with his assistant. Too bad, turns out Colossus is a voyeur.

Let’s examine this question using Google Image Search as an example. Here are some of the images identified by Google as being me, or at least identified with my name:

That’s right none of them are me, although one is an image by me and another is an image of someone who shares my name. Can you guess which ones? But why are the other 3 in there? Is that really how well AI works? And what are these people doing trying to masquerade as me?

A long time ago I took a course called 6.034 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence from Patrick Winston, one of the founders of the discipline. He’s still teaching the course according to Wikipedia. Back then the AI community claimed they were going to understand human thought, something philosophers and psychologists and everyone else had failed to do.

They also claimed that computing languages didn’t need things like plus or minus signs. I got an A in the course, but I thought it was all pretty silly. Still do. But computers have gotten a lot faster and have a lot more memory so doing things the hard way is now possible. Plus somewhere along the way the AI community discovered equations.

But they still can’t find an image of me on the Internet. I admit it’s a pretty hard job. Despite my presence on the Internet (and its predecessor) for more than 40 years, as far as I know, there is only one picture of me on the Internet. But it’s right here on this blog and Google know about this blog, so why can’t it find the image?

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