Robotics is increasingly related to Artificial Intelligence and moreover I think the target audience of this blog is following AI with inherent interest.
On Tuesday evening (04.02.2020), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schmidhuber was a guest in Aying. Schmidhuber's institute in Lugano, Switzerland, laid the foundations for, among other things, the speech recognition technology that every smartphone or Alexa has today. He is therefore also considered one of the fathers of AI, if not the father.
Aying is still an agricultural village, 35 km south of Munich's Marienplatz and 20 km south of where I live. Schmidhuber was a guest of the party-independent voters' association Helfendorf. This unusual constellation had a good reason: more than 30 years ago, Schmidhuber spun off Hermann Oswald, the current mayoral candidate of the voters' association, from his childhood sweetheart and married her. The mayoral candidate was not vindictive and so they remained friends; probably even very close.
The most important statements by Prof. Schmidhuber:
- In 1941, Zuse introduced the first computer. It managed 1 arithmetic operation in one second. Since then, the respective computing power has been increased tenfold every 5 years - if you calculate it, you will arrive at unimaginable values.
- This increase in performance (computing capacity), together with new algorithms, was the prerequisite for the recent boom in AI.
- Since there is no reason that this increase in performance will slow down, in 3 decades a computer the size of a cell phone should have reached the human brain
- As a result, the AI hangs us out to dry.
- Since the AI does not die, it does not think finitely. Therefore it will - if one lets it - turn to the space to look what can be discovered after many, many years.
- Bavaria was a center of AI early on. As early as 1980, an autonomous car drove from Munich to Denmark and back. (Photo).
- For this reason, over 50% of the world's patents in the field of autonomous driving still originate from companies/institutions (Bundeswehr University Neubiberg) based in the Munich area.
- While the companies on the Pacific Rim (which is how he subsumes both the Silicon Valley giants and the Chinese corporations) have huge power and money, southern Germany and Switzerland in particular have an outstanding number of mechanical engineers.
- Through this, there is very great potential in the upcoming control of machines by AI (author's note: Opdra is an example of this).
- But if machines get by with fewer and fewer people in the future, then the robots will have to finance people's livelihoods through a tax.
- You can predict very well which jobs will disappear, but not which ones will be created. Twenty years ago, no one would have guessed that today there would be a separate profession of influencers or YouTubers (both platforms didn't even exist back then). That is, he is only worried to a limited extent.
- There are creatures that do not age or hardly age at all. Be it worms or also turtles or sharks. Theoretically, there is no limit to life. However, man has not yet understood what distinguishes him from these long-lived creatures. If he understands this, nothing speaks (physical or chemical laws) against to interrupt the aging.
- In recent months, he has been a speaker at AI congresses in Shanghai (reportedly 100,000 attendees) or even Moscow (6,000 attendees including Putin). No politician would have such verve about AI as Putin. However, Schmidhuber suspects Putin sees AI primarily as a power base.
- The province of Shanghai, roughly comparable in economic strength to Switzerland or Bavaria, is investing 15 billion in AI alone. (At least Schmidhuber believes that the talks with him will make politicians a little more generous.
- Addressing the dangers of an AI-driven surveillance state, Schmidbauer drew parallels to the past: In the past, there would have been people in every village who knew everything about everyone (e.g., the letter carrier, author's note). The new surveillance probably cannot be prevented.
Conclusion: A really worthwhile visit by a professor who is as intelligent as he is down-to-earth. And the realization: Germany still has a chance to play, but it has to do something.