Saturday November 26, 2016

How close are we to Westworld's artificial intelligence?

Dolores with the Man in Black

Dolores with the Man in Black (HBO)

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The action in HBO's new sci-fi series, Westworld, revolves around a futuristic theme park -- populated by human-like robots. Paying guests visit this world to live out their wildest and most depraved fantasies. It's kind of like Grand Theft Auto - but more real, fully immersive, and set in the old American West. Eventually the robots gain memories and a kind of consciousness.

Westworld

The creation of 'Da Vinci man' on Westworld. (HBO)

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This is, of course, fiction, but in the real world, work on artificial intelligence is moving fast. So when it comes to AI systems developing consciousness, how close is Westworld's science fiction to science fact?

Quirks & Quarks producer Sonya Buyting, with the help of two experts in the field, talks to Bob to sort fact from fiction. 

Westworld screen grab

The Westworld attribute matrix (HBO)

Mark Stephen Meadow's company, Botanic.io, creates artificially intelligent virtual personalities that can learn and improve its function. He sees many similarities between the interfaces Westworld uses and his own, like Westworld's attribute matrix and in how they process language. 

Dr. Oren Etzioni, the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and a professor in computer science at the University of Washington, describes deep learning artificial intelligence, which is loosely modelled on how a toddler learns. He describes the current limitations to AI and what he thinks about the possibility of artificially intelligent systems developing consciousness. 

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