Marissa Mayer of Google gave today’s Keynote conversation. It’s no wonder Google does such wonders when people like this are in charge. I did get a chance to ask about the intersection of search and AI and got a fantastic answer – she thinks they will intersect, and this could happen within about ten years. Also interesting was that she said they are now seeing things that “look like intelligence” emerging from the search algorithms. This is not thought, but she indictated that it’s possible to have thought like processes emerge in this fashion rather than with the massive computational approaches that were popular several years ago. This is consistent with Kurzweil’s notion that it’ll be massive parallel processing and not massive supercomputing that will probably bring the mechanical mind “to life” within the next decade or so. I’m glad Marissa Mayer seems to agree and I hope this is a focus for Google in the future (I got the idea it’s not a focus now).
I had a chance to ask Matt Cutts of Google engineering fame the same question yesterday and he was not as optimistic, thinking that it could take another 50 years to get conscious computing. But Matt correctly noted that Marissa would be more optimistic than he was because his Master’s program at University of North Carolina was lacking in much AI content due to the AI skepticism of the architect of that program.
Larry Page’s recent remarks suggesting that a viable human thinking algorithm may appear fairly soon are more in line with Marissa’s optimistic view that within a decade we could see mature, conscious, artificial intellects. The staggering implications of conscious computing are lost on many people in computing for reasons I simply don’t understand, but I think are related to the current focus on computing science as an engineering and calculation paradigm rather than a biological one. As the brain is reverse engineered and we begin to enhance neurons with forms of programming it seems reasonable to assume things are going to get … very interesting very fast.