Machine Intelligence

A Revolution in the Most Powerful Force on the Planet

The time is coming when a new version of intelligence will cover the Earth. We are entering an era of intelligent machines, a Machine Intelligence Era. Those of us alive today belong to the very special generations who will witness a planetary transition no less significant than the earlier transition from chemistry to biology some four billion years ago.

Those who do not grasp the enormity of the change now approaching are doomed to underestimate its impact on all aspects of life as we know it — from the way we organize ourselves in work to the way we experience life, and even to the reorganization of the planet's ecosystems. A machine layer is forming over the Earth, embracing it with a new reality.

Human beings are now inventing the early stages of this machine intelligence. What started with grand visions in the 1950's has gone through numerous iterations. Humanity's race to machine intelligence has seen springs of optimism and winters of frustration. It has swung between design approaches rooted in nature and design approaches inspired by abstract logic. And it has experienced a tension between design objectives rooted in augmenting humans and in replacing them.

This somewhat rocky start is to be expected in the early phases of any growth curve. In this particular case, we are seeing a growth curve that is fueled by the awesome power of automation and it is now accelerating. Those of us alive today are witnessing its inflection point in the explosion of machine learning applications now entering the market.

And we're just getting started.

Machine learning is not this or that specific tool or technique, but a planetary transition as machines now automate the process of learning. Energy sources that dwarf the biological metabolism of the human body and brain now fuel learning on a fundamentally different scale than anything witnessed thus far on the planet. This automation revolutionizes the feedback loops of biological learning, accelerating them to blurry speeds for lightning-fast execution trained by hitherto unfathomably large pools of data.

No, machine learning is not just another tool in the toolbox — it is a revolution in the most powerful force on the planet: the power to learn.

Focusing on Machine Learning:

The focus on machine learning here on the Vital Edge has several facets, including:

• Exploring recent developments in and applications of machine learning, be it in extracting knowledge, validating knowledge or in Virtual Personal Assistants.

• Shifting perspective on machine learning, such as in seeing it as a container of collective intelligence, a force of nature or alien intelligence.

• Highlighting the need for a fusion of machine and human intelligence, be it through emotional intelligence or embedding community values.

• Ensuring the alignment of machine intelligence with the long-term interests of life on Earth, through improved objective setting and governance systems.

The stories originate from conversations and the distillation of lots of smart ideas from people thinking about things like why machine learning is so different from earlier software or why we need to be more clear about differences in types of intelligence. I share some of this additional background via my Artificial Intelligence Collection on Google+, which has well over 200,000 people following it. I am also a moderator for the largest artificial intelligence community on Google+ and pull lots of interesting information from the people gathered there. I also curate a very useful Artificial Intelligence List on Twitter that is full of interesting insights.

To subscribe to the Vital Edge, you can sign up for email updates or follow the RSS feed (if you use Feedly for viewing RSS, I have a useful Artificial Intelligence Collection there that you can follow as well).

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