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What does the future hold for artificial intelligence?

Thor Olavsrud | Jan. 22, 2016
Andrew Moore, dean of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, shares his thoughts on where artificial intelligence and cognitive computing research is heading.

Even in areas without hidden information, AIs may soon be assuming a large role in very human negotiations. Moore points to Spliddit, a not-for-profit academic endeavor by CMU faculty and students, which exists to help people divide things fairly, whether rent for an apartment, the fare for a taxi or credit for a project or business endeavor.

"It sounds like a very special case, but it's happening all over the place right now," Moore says. "You might have several people taking an Uber cab and having to split up the bill, or a bunch of departments who each want a certain amount of space for their operations and the dean needs to figure out what's best. These are tools which can take us and some of our emotions and ability to intimidate each other out of the loop. There's no benefit to lying about what you want."

The future of intelligence

Beyond negotiation, Moore says CMU is betting several other AI areas are going to become hugely important in the near future.

Moore says AI testing will see significant growth in the near term. For instance, consider trucks that autonomously drive supplies across Afghanistan.

"It is very hard to test in advance whether they meet requirements," Moore says. "I would think companies that can provide services for other companies that can test autonomous or learning systems will really prosper over the next few years."

Self-driving vehicles, or vehicles that take over from a human driver in the event of extreme circumstances, have been the subject of a great deal of research for some time, of course. But researchers in this area need to bring ethics and philosophy to bear.

"We have the capability now, in the last second before a devastating crash, for the car's computer to take over," Moore says. "They have got the processing and information and understanding opportunities to make at least 1,000 more decisions in what happens during the crash. It is a wonder possibility that a car can be very critically controlled while crashed to reduce the loss of human life."

But that capability leads to some interesting moral quandaries that need to be dealt with. Is it worth killing one million domestic cats to save one human life?

"If there's a risk to the driver or a pedestrian, should the car treat their safety equally? That's going to be a very hard question for an engineer to answer," Moore says. "One of our faculty is very interested in that question. It's slightly less horrific to work with the question of animal collisions — how the car should be dealing with the risk and reward of different behaviors."


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