Science and Technology

Artificial Intelligence: beyond speculations

Técnico professors participated in the last debate on “Artificial Intelligence: Applications, Implications and Speculations”, held at Culturgest.

Professor Arlindo Oliveira, President of Técnico, professor André Martins, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (DEEC) and Head of Research at Unbabel, and professor Ana Paiva, from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (DEI) and coordinator of GAIPS at INESC-ID, participated in the last debate at a set of conferences titled “Artificial Intelligence: Applications, Implications and Speculations”, held at Culturgest, this Wednesday, 5th June. The debate was moderated by the Técnico professor, Tiago Domingos.

“Where are we today?”, “what can we expect tomorrow?” and “is speculation a way to design the future?”, were the topics addressed by the three speakers. Professor Ana Paiva focused on the continuous human-machine delegation interactions highlighting the need of programming social robots. Professor André Martins spoke about the common AI mistakes and speculations, and the possibility of building intelligent machines without replicating all brain mechanisms. Professor Arlindo Oliveira exposed the idea that it will take some time before AI replaces the human brain.

“AI will create a paradigm shift in our lives”, said professor Ana Paiva, who also pointed out “the future of AI must counterbalance the negative effect on technological development in order to contribute to a better society. We have to think of a new hybrid society where humans and machines can coexist and where machines can play a role as important as humans”. “In my opinion, the rise of the machines is not a likely future. I believe that people will create ways of promoting sociability and interaction”, added professor Ana Paiva.

Professor André Martins stressed that sometimes speculations make people fall in what is referred to as Amara’s Law – “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”. The professor also spoke about the advances made in machine translation, which he considers to be “the most successful branch of AI”. According to professor André Martins, “machines will make decisions and choices for humans”, but there are still “problems that need to be solved so that machines can imitate intelligent human behavior”.

“I am going to say things that may seem strange, but don’t forget this: they aren’t impossible because technological evolution speeds up exponentially”, said professor Arlindo Oliveira, who also explained Bio-Inspired AI and Synthetic Intelligence. “For the moment, the scientific community doesn’t know how to create artificial general intelligence systems”. The President of Técnico spoke of the Fermi Paradox, which is the apparent conflict between the fact that humans have found no evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life despite the probability that it exists, given what we know about the universe. “We might be one of the first intelligent species to evolve in this galaxy, so we have an obligation to spread intelligence throughout the galaxy” and AI will help us to do so. “A super-intelligent civilisation can control the entire universe in such a way that we can’t imagine”, he said. “However, we can’t accurately predict the future of technology”, he added.