What would you want AI to do, if it could do whatever you wanted it to do ?

P.S: Copy of my blog in Linkedin

Note : I am capturing interesting updates at the end of the blog.


Exponential Advances:

An interesting article in Nature points out that exponential advanced in technological growth can result is a very alternate world very soon.

IBM X Prize:



And the IBM AI X Prize is offering a chance to showcase powerful ideas that tackle challenges.

Got me thinking … What do would we want our machines/AI to do ?

I am interested in your thoughts. Pl comment on what you would like AI to do.

Earlier I had written about us not wanting our machines to be like us; understand us – may be, help us – definitely, but imitate us – absolutely not  …

So what does that mean ?

  • Driving cars ? – Definitely
  • Image recognition, translation and similar tasks ? – Absolutely
  • Write like Shakespeare just by feeding all the plays to a neural network like the LSTM ? – Definitely not !

I see folks training deep Learning systems by feeding them Shakespeare plays and see what the AI can write. Good exercise, but is that something we would get an X Prize for ? Of course, that is putting the cart before the horse !

We don’t write just by memorizing the dictionary and Elements of Style !!

  • We write because we have a story to tell.
  • The story comes before writing;
  • Experience & imagination comes before a story …
  • A good story requires both the narrative power as well as a powerful content with it’s own anti-climax, and of course the hanging chads ;o)
  • Which the current AI systems do not possess …
  • Already we have robots (Google Atlas) that can walk like a human – leaving aside the the goofy gait – which, of course, is mainly a mechanical/balance problem than an AI challenge
  • Robots can drive way better than a human
  • They translate a lot better than humans can (Of course language semantics is a lot more mechanical than storytelling)
  • Robots and AI machines do all kinds of stuff (Even though Mercedes Assembly plant found that they cannot handle the versatile customization!)

Is there anything remaining for an AI prize One wonders …

In the article “How Google’s impressive new robot demo will fuel your nightmares” , at 2:09, the human (very rudely) pushes the robot to the ground and the robot gets up on it’s own ! That proves that we have solved the mechanical aspects of human anatomy w.r.t movements & balance.

[Update 3/17/16] Looks like Google is pushing Boston Dynamics out of the fold !



But a meta question remains.

  • Would the robot be upset at the human ?
  • Would it know the difference – if it was pushed to keep it away from harm’s way (say a falling object) vs. out of spite ?
  • And, if we later hug the robot (as the author suggests we do) would it feel better ?
  • Will it forget the insult ?

So there is something to be done after all !

Impart into our AI – the capability to imagine, the ability to understand what life is;  feel sadness & joy; understand what it is to struggle through a loss,…

This is important – for example, if we want robots to act as companions for the sick, the elderly and the disabled, may be even the occasional lonely, the desolate and for that matter even the joyous!

If the AI cannot comprehend sadness, how can it offer condolences as a companion ? Wouldn’t understanding our state of mind help it to help us better? 


 In many ways, by helping AI to understand us, the ultimate utility might not be whether AI really comprehends us or not, but whether we get to understand us better, in the process !! And that might be the best outcome out of all of these innovations.

As H2O-ai Chief SriSatish points out,

Over the past 100 years, we’ve been training humans to be as punctual and predictable as machines; … we’re so used to being machines at work—AI frees us up to be humans again ! – Well said SriSatish

With these points in mind, it is interesting to speculate what the AI X-Prize TED talks would look like in 2017; in 2018. And what better way to predict the future than to invent it ? I am planning on working on one or two submissions …

And what says thee ?

[Update 3/12/16] Very interesting article in GoGaneGuru about AlphaGo’s 3rd win.


  • AlphaGo’s strength was simply remarkable and it was hard not to feel Lee’s pain
  • Having answered many questions about AlphaGo’s strengths and weakness, and exhausting every reasonable possibility of reversing the game, Lee was tired and defeated. He resigned after 176 moves.
  • It’s time for broader discussion about how human society will adapt to this emerging technology !!

And Jason Millar @guardian agrees.


Maybe all is not lost after all, WSJ says … !


[Update 3/9/16] Rolling Stone has a 2-part report – Inside the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. They end the report with a very ominous statement.



[Update 3/4/16] Baidu Chief Scientist Andrew Ng has insightful observations

  • “What I see today is that computer-driven cars are a fundamentally different thing than human-driven cars and we should not treat them the same”- so true !

[Update 3/6/16] An interesting post from Tom Devenport about Cognitive Computing.

  • Good insights into what Cognitive Computing is, as a combination of Intelligence(Algorithms), Inference(Knowledge) and Interface (Visualization, Recommendation, Prediction,…)
  • IMHO, Cognitive Computing is more than Analytics over unstructured data, it also has touches of AI in there.
  • Reason being, Cognitive Computing understands humans – whether it is about buying patterns or the way different bodies reacts to drugs or the various forms of diseases or even the way humans work and interact
  • And that knowledge is the difference between Analytics and Cognitive Computing !

I like Cognitive Computing as an important part of AI, probably that is where most of the applications are … again understanding humans rather than being humans !

Reference & Thanks:

My thanks to the following links from which I created the collage:

  1. http://www.nature.com/news/a-world-where-everyone-has-a-robot-why-2040-could-blow-your-mind-1.19431
  2. http://lifehacker.com/the-three-most-common-types-of-dumb-mistakes-we-all-mak-1760826426
  3. https://e27.co/know-artificial-intelligence-business-20160223/
  4. http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/software/digital-baby-project-aims-for-computers-to-see-like-humans
  5. http://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-artificial-intelligence-researchers-to-follow-on-twitter/
  6. http://www.lifehack.org/309644/book-lovers-alert-8-the-most-spectacular-libraries-the-world
  7. http://www.headlines-news.com/2016/02/18/890838/can-ai-fix-the-world-ibm-ted-and-x-prize-will-give-you-5-million-to-prove-it
  8. http://www.lifehack.org/366158/10-truly-amazing-places-you-should-visit-india?ref=tp&n=1
  9. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-most-magnificent-places-read-books.html

2 thoughts on “What would you want AI to do, if it could do whatever you wanted it to do ?

  1. Pingback: Yann LeCun @deeplearningcdf Collège de France | My missives

  2. Pingback: 5 Lessons on AI from the Tesla Autopilot Fatality | My missives

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