Google’s Eric Schmidt traveled recently to watch world Go champion Lee Se-dol go head to head with AlphaGo, an algorithm created by Google-owned British artificial intelligence company DeepMind. At the event, Schmidt shared his opinion on many topics, including the rising importance of AI and if AI can take human jobs.
Will AI replace humans?
Schmidt told listeners that when he was a young computer scientist in the 70s, there were many claims that human intelligence could be beaten, but none of it happened.
“Now there is a sense that AI [artificial intelligence] has finally arrived,” Schmidt said.
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On Saturday, Se-dol won his first game against the machine but has already lost the challenge. Now after the defeat of the Go grand master in a game he has been playing for the last 20 years, there will surely be questions or concerns about if AI-fueled robots can replace humans in other areas, thus hurting jobs.
“There’s no question that as [AI] becomes more pervasive, people doing routine, repetitive tasks will be at risk,” Schmidt says. “I understand the economic arguments, but this technology benefits everyone on the planet, from the rich to the poor, the educated to uneducated, high IQ to low IQ, every conceivable human being. It genuinely makes us all smarter, so this is a natural next step.”
Growing importance of AI for Google
Schmidt says the investment in AI can’t be quantified and that it started small with about 100 employees, but now thousands work with it. Schmidt says the search giant runs an internal training program in which all Google engineers are motivated to use AI in everything from Android to Gmail.
Machine learning helps power the 100 languages on Google Translate and is also behind Google Photos. It translates languages even while talking, and this is “amazing,” says Schmidt.
Schmidt says Google’s ads, searches, data centers, computers and security software are being used by a large number of people, and whenever there are many people using something, it can probably be made more efficient using machine intelligence. Schmidt believes its healthcare and smartphone assistants areas can be boosted by the new technology.
Explaining his view about healthcare, he said the team tested diabetic retinopathy, and they can diagnose it more accurately han an ophthalmologist. The reason is because they can see more eyes—a million eyes–whereas an ophthalmologist may see 10,000.