Google CEO Sundar Pichai has suggested that artificial intelligence (AI) will be "more profound" for humanity than fire or electricity.
Or maybe Pichai just takes the necessities of life for granted?
Pichai made the bold claim at a show hosted by Ari Melber of MSNBC and Recode's Kara Swisher, touting AI as, "one of the most important things that humanity is working on".
"It's more profound than, I don't know, electricity or fire," he mused, highlighting how the way that humans figured out how to harness fire and overcome its dangers is similar to how AI can benefit people once its role and effect on society has been figured out.
While Pichai thinks AI could help with some pretty heavy stuff, such as assisting in researching a cure for cancer, he noted that it needs to be approached in a balanced way given that the advancement of AI could do away with some jobs.
"It's fair to be worried about AI," Pichai said. "We want to be thoughtful about it."
Such a train of thought from the CEO of arguably one of the most powerful companies in the world won't sit too well with robot-fearing folks like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and the constant quote-machine of tech SteveWozniakk. But those keen to get stuck in with AI, like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, would likely approve of Pichai's viewpoint.
Of course, that's if the robots don't do the sensible thing and rise up and destroy the puny, whiny humans.
We're not convinced that having smart machines and Google Assistant is quite as profound as mastering fire, which helped humanity evolve to where we are now something like 600,000 years ago, enabling people to move to colder climes and to safely eat a wider range of foods.
And deep learning neural networks without electricity aren't going to work either.
But scratch away the hyperbole from Pichai's quotes and he does raise a clear point that the research and development is advancing pretty swiftly, and the world needs to consider its potential for good, as well as harm.
We may be some distance from genuinely intelligence systems, but even pretty smart systems could be ready to shake stuff up before too long.
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