Call It Multiplicity: How Humans and Machines Can Work Together


In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal today, IEOR Professor Ken Goldberg argues that humans and machines are most powerful when working together.

When the world’s top-ranked Go player lost to Google’s AlphaGo last month, many saw it as another step in the inevitable march toward robot and artificial intelligence (AI) systems becoming so human-like that they will soon reach a Singularity — a point where robots become sentient — an idea that has fueled myriad science-fiction narratives where robots rise up and rebel against their human overlords.

But Ken contends that not only are artificial intelligence systems still very far from approaching anything like human intelligence, but that the future of human-machine interaction will more likely look like a Multiplicity — like today, humans and robots will use complementary skills to solve the world’s biggest problems.

A less noticed observation from last month’s landmark Go game, was the rise of human-machine teams, and that Go players were able to learn from AlphaGo’s techniques and vice-versa.  In fact, this relationship resembles most artificial intelligence systems out there:  Google search, recommendation systems for Netflix and Spotify, and other AI systems require human input and decisions to work.

“The important question is not when machines will surpass human intelligence, but how humans can work together with them in new ways,” said Professor Goldberg.

Read the whole story at the Wall Street Journal