IBM and the grand challenges of AI and quantum computing

IBM and the grand challenges of AI and quantum computing

AI is firmly back in the news OpenAI's ChatGPT and picture generating AI systems like MidJourney and Stable Diffusion have got a lot more people interested in advanced AI and talking about it. Which is a good thing. It will not be pretty if the transformative changes that will happen in the next two or three decades take most of us by surprise. One company that has been pioneering advanced AI for longer than most is IBM. One of IBM’s most senior executives, Alessandro Curioni, joined the London Futurists Podcast to discuss IBM’s current projects in AI, quantum computing, and...
The Fermi Paradox: Where is everyone? With Anders Sandberg

The Fermi Paradox: Where is everyone? With Anders Sandberg

The paradox In the summer of 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi and some colleagues at the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico were walking to lunch, and casually discussing flying saucers - as you do - when Fermi blurted out “But where is everybody?” He was not the first to pose the question, and the precise phrasing is disputed, but the mystery he was referring to remains compelling. We appear to live in a vast universe, with billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, mostly surrounded by planets, including many like Earth. The universe appears to be 13.7 billion...
Forecasts for AI in 2023

Forecasts for AI in 2023

Big Bangs This year was the tenth anniversary of the Big Bang in AI, when Geoff Hinton and some colleagues introduced deep learning, a relaunch of neural networks. Deep learning enabled the Big Tech firms in the US and China to build products and services which generated enormous amounts of money – the first time that AI was lucrative. This year was also the fifth anniversary of a second big bang in AI – the advent of Transformer models, like GPT-3 and Dall-E. These are AI systems which achieve remarkable results by predicting what token (a piece of text or...
Saudi Arabia is becoming a leading AI nation – without most people noticing

Saudi Arabia is becoming a leading AI nation – without most people noticing

Vision 2030 Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s radical and ambitious plan to transform its economy, and the lives of its people. Its leaders have identified artificial intelligence as a vital tool to enable this transformation, so they have set themselves the goal of becoming one of the world’s top ten developers of AI systems within a decade. They are making remarkable progress with both AI and the overall transformation, but at least in the West, this is going largely unnoticed. For reasons we will explore in a moment, the global AI summit held in Riyadh this week received little coverage...
Responsible AI: the challenge of ensuring that AI systems work for all of us. With Ray Eitel-Porter

Responsible AI: the challenge of ensuring that AI systems work for all of us. With Ray Eitel-Porter

The longer term concerns of AI safety and AI alignment Concerns about artificial intelligence tend to fall into two buckets. The longer term concern is that advanced AI may harm humans. In its extreme form, this includes the Skynet scenario from the Terminator movies, where a superintelligence decides it doesn’t like us and wipes us out. But an advanced AI doesn’t have to be malevolent, or even conscious, to do us great harm. It just has to have goals which conflict with ours. The paper-clip maximiser is the cartoon example: the AI is determined to make as many paper-clips as...
From data analysis to decision intelligence. With Steve Coates

From data analysis to decision intelligence. With Steve Coates

The paradox of modern AI There seems to be something of a paradox in modern AI. In academia and within the tech giants of the US and China, research is galloping ahead, but the deployment of modern AI in industry and government organisations is advancing at a more stately pace. One of the people trying to change that is Steve Coates. Steve dropped out of college to become a chef, but he switched again and took a degree in computer science, and then spent 20 years developing business strategies with Accenture and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Seven years ago...
What happens when everyone realises we can live much longer? We may find out as soon as 2025. With Aubrey de Grey

What happens when everyone realises we can live much longer? We may find out as soon as 2025. With Aubrey de Grey

Let’s not just cure cancer: let’s cure aging One of the most exciting areas of modern scientific research is the investigation of the causes and cures for aging. Not individual diseases like cancer and heart disease, but the processes which make us elderly and frail, and which thereby make us more susceptible to these diseases. Aubrey de Grey has been at the forefront of anti-aging research for more than 20 years. He founded the Methuselah Foundation in 2003, and the SENS Foundation (Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence) in 2009, Most recently, “Aubrey 3.0” is the LEV Foundation (Longevity Escape Velocity),...
When will we stop eating animals? With Jacy Anthis

When will we stop eating animals? With Jacy Anthis

Jacy Reese Anthis is a polymath and rising star in the fields of Effective Altruism (EA) and artificial intelligence (AI). He is a co-founder of the Sentience Institute and the author of the 2018 book “The End of Animal Farming”. EA is the project of identifying the most impactful strategies to help others, and the book grew out of EA research into the best ways to help animals. He explains his thinking on animals and AI in the latest episode of The London Futurist Podcast. Many people think that factory farming is one of the most pressing ethical problems in...
Breaking out of the Simulation. With Roman Yampolskiy

Breaking out of the Simulation. With Roman Yampolskiy

The Simulation Hypothesis In the 4th century BC, the Greek philosopher Plato theorised that humans do not perceive the world as it really is. All we can see is shadows on a wall. In 2003, the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper which formalised an argument to prove Plato was right. The paper argued that one of the following three statements is true: 1. We will go extinct fairly soon 2. Advanced civilisations don’t produce simulations containing entities which think they are naturally-occurring sentient intelligences. (This could be because it is impossible.) 3. We are in a simulation The...
How Insilico Medicine uses AI to accelerate drug development

How Insilico Medicine uses AI to accelerate drug development

Within the longevity research community, Alex Zhavoronkov is well-known for his relentless focus. He works seven days a week and takes no holidays. The hard work is paying off: In February, Insilico Medicine, the AI drug development company he founded, announced the first phase 1 clinical trials for a wholly AI-developed drug. Following a series of investment rounds in the rest of the year, the company is now well-funded, and its software is widely used in the pharma industry. Alex explains the company’s progress in the latest episode of the London Futurist Podcast. Three phases of drug development Drug development...
Taking back control of the Singularity

Taking back control of the Singularity

David Wood’s new book, “The Singularity Principles” is published at an opportune moment. A growing number of well-informed people are saying that the technological singularity – the arrival of superintelligent machines – now appears to be much nearer than they used to think. If it is, then the job of making sure the outcome is positive for humans becomes urgent. Wood and I discussed his book in the latest episode of The London Futurist Podcast. Rapture for Nerds The task of ensuring that superintelligence is safe for humanity is hindered by the fact that many people do not take it...
Regenerating the thymus: profile of Greg Fahy

Regenerating the thymus: profile of Greg Fahy

We heard a great deal about T cells during the Covid pandemic. They are crucial to resisting infection, and they are manufactured in your thymus, a small organ behind your breastbone. Unfortunately, the thymus starts to deteriorate when you are young, which is why the elderly were particularly susceptible to Covid. Greg Fahy was already a successful and noted cryobiologist when he embarked on a series of experiments to regenerate the thymus. He wants to remind our bodies how to be young. Wanting to be President When Greg Fahy was small he wanted to be President. This was simply because...
Could you – and should you – get paid to do AI safety research? With Ross Nordby

Could you – and should you – get paid to do AI safety research? With Ross Nordby

How close are we to artificial general intelligence (AGI), a machine with all the cognitive ability of an adult human? Surveys of AI researchers indicate that professionals think the most likely timeline is a decade or so either side of the middle of this century. That is not very long, but quite a few well-informed people think it could be even sooner. One such person is Ross Nordby, who explains his thinking on the latest edition of the London Futurist Podcast. The startling progress of AI Ross is a programmer with deep expertise in real-time physics for video games. A...
Extending health spans by extending telomeres: profile of Liz Parrish

Extending health spans by extending telomeres: profile of Liz Parrish

Patient zero Liz Parrish was nervous. She was on a plane to Colombia, where she would undergo an untested gene therapy. She and her colleagues had spent two years developing the therapy and making the preparations, but they could not know how it would work out. It was September 2015, and Parrish had been inspired to take this step because her son, suffering from type 1 diabetes, was unable to obtain treatment for his condition in the USA. She decided to embark upon a mission to persuade the FDA to move from a precautionary approach to a proactive one. It...
Superintelligence may be closer than most people think. With Simon Thorpe

Superintelligence may be closer than most people think. With Simon Thorpe

There is a paradox in artificial intelligence (AI). The technology is already very powerful, and most people agree that it will transform every industry and every aspect of our lives. But deployment of AI in industry seems to be proceeding slower than expected. One explanation for this is that CEOs and CTOs are understandably nervous about deploying systems that are unpredictable. They are even more nervous about systems which make mistakes, but unless they make mistakes they cannot learn. Fast progress in AI research Whatever the hold-ups in industry, AI is making great strides in the lab. Researchers are surprised,...
Why is it so hard to deploy AI? With Daniel Hulme

Why is it so hard to deploy AI? With Daniel Hulme

We all know AI will transform everything There might be a corporate executive somewhere who hasn’t yet concluded that over the next few years, artificial intelligence (AI) will transform their organisation and their industry. If there is, they are very unusual. However, despite this general acknowledgement of its importance, many companies are struggling to deploy AI. How should they do it? Daniel Hulme has some suggestions, which he explains in episode 8 of the London Futurist podcast. Daniel is the founder and CEO of Satalia, which until recently was London’s largest independent AI consultancy, helping companies solve hard problems with...
Has there been a second AI Big Bang? With Aleksa Gordic

Has there been a second AI Big Bang? With Aleksa Gordic

The first Big Bang in 2012 The Big Bang in artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the breakthrough in 2012, when a team of researchers led by Geoff Hinton managed to train an artificial neural network (known as a deep learning system) to win an image classification competition by a surprising margin. Prior to that, AI had performed some remarkable feats, but it had never made much money. Since 2012, AI has helped the big technology companies to generate enormous wealth, not least from advertising. A second Big Bang in 2017? Has there been a new Big Bang in AI, since...
Preventing the brain from aging: profile of Jean Hébert

Preventing the brain from aging: profile of Jean Hébert

Machines can be fixed Jean Hébert wanted to be a molecular biologist long before he knew what the term meant. As a boy in elementary school in Montreal, Quebec, he decided that getting old was a bad idea. He reasoned that we are essentially machines, so it must be possible to fix our bodies when they suffer damage, and begin to malfunction. This line of thinking led him all the way to a PhD in genetics, but while doing that he realised that re-engineering the genome to stop aging would be very hard indeed. He decided to change direction, and...