Barney Pell has a passion for artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP). His latest foray into those related fields is Powerset, a search engine that he hopes will challenge Google. He will be speaking, along with other experts in the AI field, at the Singularity Summit 2007, held at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco September 8-9.
In this podcast interview, I talked with Pell about his views on AI and how the development of machines smarter than humans will play out in coming decades. We also discussed the underpinnings of Powerset as an example of technology and collective human intelligence applied to making a smarter search engine, and how natural language understanding is at an inflection point, moving out of the labs and into the world.
Pell said that AI entities will get smarter but also humans, via intelligence augmentation, will gain new capabilities. He suggested that two approaches will meet in the middle--bottom-up complete brain simulations, which develop like human children, and top-down engineered systems.
He provided a framework for thinking about how AIs might evolve, and thoughts about the risks in developing such advanced technologies. "We are going to have to just bite the bullet--because this is going to happen. I don't think these will be technologies you will be able to control. I do think there is strong value in looking at what are architectural aspects that may or may not be the same as people that can really dispose these systems to be the kinds of systems you want to build and to look at training and development processes that socialize these systems in the right way," Pell said.
The Singularity Summit 2007 will address the risks and benefits of advanced AI and how we should prepare for Singularity, the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence, driven by technology advances such as AI, direct brain-computer interfaces, biological augmentation of the brain, genetic engineering and ultra-high resolution scans of the brain followed by computer emulation.