3 October 2016
Steve Mustow, Senior Director in WYG’s environment discipline looks at the potential implications of artificial intelligence for the environment profession in his latest expert opinion piece, which was first published on W: environmentalistonline.com.
Remember when artificial intelligence (AI) existed only in science fiction? Now, advances in computing and programming have led to AI applications that can perform tasks hitherto the preserve of human intelligence. These include driverless cars, online assistants such as Siri and Cortana, automated telephone helplines that mimic human operators, sophisticated translation software and programs that can beat the world’s best players at chess.
Recent advances, such as in neural network programming, have led some commentators to predict that AIs with general human-level intelligence will be developed within a few decades. Such AIs could acquire the ability to design and create more advanced applications, leading to the so-called ‘singularity’ when AI overtakes human thinking. This is a prospect that generates both excitement and fear.
This may sound far-fetched, but the huge sums of money invested in AI by companies such as Google and Facebook illustrate how seriously it is taken. In 2014 Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering who popularised the ‘singularity’ concept, said computers would gain what will look a lot like consciousness in little over ten years.
To read the full article, visit the Environmentalist website here.