An Artificial Intelligence Doubter: Remarkable

December 18, 2019

The often cynical and always irreverent Piekniewski’s blog has posted another perspective of the AI field in, “AI Update, Late 2019 – Wizards of Oz.” AI and deep learning scholar Filip Piekniewski has made a habit of issuing take-downs of AI propaganda, and this time he takes aim at self-driving cars, OpenAI, Microsoft’s DeepMind, and more. He writes:

“The whole field of AI resembles a giant collective of wizards of Oz. A lot of effort is put in to convincing gullible public that AI is magic, where in fact it is really just a bunch of smoke and mirrors. The wizards use certain magical language, avoiding carefully to say anything that would indicate their stuff is not magic. I bet many of these wizards in their narcissistic psyche do indeed believe wholeheartedly they have magical powers….”

Be that as it may, the post is a good read for anyone who wants to see past the hubris. For example, we learn several self-driving AI companies have been having financial and/or technical difficulties while news stories around that tech sound less and less rosy. Also, the much-hyped OpenAI text algorithm was hacked, and turns out to be much less threatening (or impressive) than originally proclaimed. Then there’s the robot that has trouble with its Rubic’s cube project, the firing of Element AI’s CEO, and the disappointments of AI-based radiology. See the write-up for more. The post, however, concludes on a positive note:

“In practice, even though there is no magic, there is a lot of useful stuff one can do with that smoke and mirror not just deception and ripping off naive investors. I’m currently working on something that certainly uses what would be called AI, lots of visual perception and is in ways autonomous, but unlike some of these other moon shots seems quite doable (doable does not mean easy!) with today’s technology and moreover seems to provide a huge economical value. More on that soon, once Accel Robotics gets out of stealth mode and we publicly announce what we are up to. Stay tuned!”

Will people listen to a critic? Dial 1 800 YOU-WISH for an answer.

Cynthia Murrell, December 18, 2019


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