Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tech Tuesday: AI Is Here and It's A Game Changer

I first learned about TED Talks through T.J. Lind, the high school kid who in 2011 helped me publish my first four books on Kindle: The Red Scorpion, Unremembered Histories, Newmanesque and The Breaking Point & Other Stories. For those unfamiliar, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. The TED Talks are short motivational/inspirational talks covering nearly every topic from life issue to global concerns, business lessons to the future of technology. You can learn more about the TED organization here.

I bring all this up because yesterday I read a very interesting article that had been posted on LinkedIn by Bill Gross, a Cal Tech grad and entrepreneur, most noted as founder and CEO of Idealab. The article was titled Top 8 Things I Learned at TED 2017.

Gross begins by noting that he's been attend TED events for 21 years and has listened to over 2000 TED Talks. He's also given a few. He claims that at this year's TED Conference he attended every single talk, 94 in all.

The one I wanted to share here was Gary Kasparov's talk. You may remember Kasparov as the reigning world chess champion who in 1997 was defeated by Big Blue, an intelligent machine designed by IBM. In his talk he shares his feelings about this match. He also shared about another experience he'd had involving machines. In 1995, twelve years earlier, Kasparov played 32 games at once with 32 computers and won. In his talk he noted that when he lost in '97 no one seemed to recall his earlier victory over these 32 computers which he played simultaneously.

A couple weeks ago my brother shared with me a story about my neighbor Mr. Fuchs who on one occasion paid money to play against a highly ranked chess champion. Mr. Fuchs was a neighbor of ours who taught me how to play chess in seventh grade. I enjoyed the game a joined the chess club in school as a result, bought a few books about opening moves.

So on this occasion where he went to play this chess master he was one of maybe 48 players. The master looks at each board briefly and moves a piece, then takes a step to the next board, walking around the room making moves as the players spend all the time in between studying options so as to determine their next strategic move. Halfway through the game when the chess master returned to Mr. Fuchs' board he studied the situation and then toppled his king, indicating that Mr. Fuchs won. My neighbor was the only player who won that day.

I knew that much of the story, but did not know this, which my brother Ron shared with me over Easter. Mr. Fuchs said afterwards, "He saw so far ahead that he could see that it was over. I didn't even know what he saw."

Today's A.I. computers, like that chess master, are continuously calculating. They see far beyond what we can even imagine. But Kasparov says that the computer's victory in 1997 was actually a human achievement. People made the machine. That is why when you watch the video of Watson winning a game of Jeopardy over top Jeopardy minds, the IBM/Watson team is seen celebrating in afterwards.

Kasparov ended his talk by noting that "he feels that AI has great potential for human/computer advancement, and that there’s only one thing that humans can uniquely do, and that’s dream, so he urges us to dream big."

What are you dreaming about today? Keep stirring. Pay attention. Open your eyes. And when the time is right, seize the moment and make it happen.

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