Matryoshka World

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ray Kurzweil on the significance of IBM's Watson

Ray Kurzweil discusses the significance of IBM's Jeopardy! Champion computer Watson as a milestone in the progress of artificial intelligence.

Kurzweil concludes his thoughts with the statement that: " By the time the controversy dies down and it becomes unambiguous that nonbiological intelligence is equal to biological human intelligence, the AIs will already be thousands of times smarter than us."

While it is likely that artificial intelligence will continue to meet or surpass human intelligence in more and more areas, I'm not sure what it would really mean to think of something "thousands of times more intelligent" than a human. Certainly, computers will ultimately be able to process many times faster than a human brain, but that does not necessarily lead to a correspondingly greater intelligence.

If there are only so many layers of understanding before an ultimate knowledge of the universe would be reached, perhaps there is limit, beyond which it would not be meaningful to discuss greater intelligence. While there is no doubt that human intelligence would not be the pinnacle of potential intelligence in the universe, I'm not sure it will come to pass that computers will be thousands of times more intelligent than people in any meaningful sense.

The significance of IBM's Watson

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