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South Korea Commits $863 Million To AI Research After AlphaGo 'Shock' (nature.com) 67

schwit1 writes: In reaction to the recent Go victory by a computer program over a human, the government of South Korea has quickly accelerated its plans to back research into the field of artificial intelligence with a commitment of $863 million and the establishment of [a] public/private institute. According to Nature.com, "It is not immediately clear whether the cash represents new funding, or had been previously allocated to AI efforts. But it does include the founding of a high-profile, public-private research center with participation from several Korean conglomerates, including Samsung, LG Electronics and Hyundai Motor, as well as the technology firm Naver, based near Seoul. The timing of the announcement indicates the impact [AlphaGo has on South Korea], which two days earlier wrapped up a 4-1 victory over grandmaster Lee Sedol in an exhibition match in Seoul. The feat was hailed as a milestone for AI research. But it also shocked the Korean public, stoking widespread concern over the capabilities of AI, as well as a spate of newspaper headlines worrying that South Korea was falling behind in a crucial growth industry. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has also announced the formation of a council that will provide recommendations to overhaul the nation's research and development process to enhance productivity. In her [March 17] speech, she emphasized that "artificial intelligence can be a blessing for human society" and called it "the fourth industrial revolution." She added, "Above all, Korean society is ironically lucky, that thanks to the 'AlphaGo shock,' we have learned the importance of AI before it is too late."' Not surprisingly, some academics are complaining that the money is going to [the] industry rather than the universities. Will this crony capitalistic approach produce any real development, or will it instead end up [being] a pork-laden jobs program for South Korean politicians?
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South Korea Commits $863 Million To AI Research After AlphaGo 'Shock'

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  • ok...i'll play...too late for what?
    • Most likely before someone less snags up the multi billion dollar business and control over the technology lies mostly abroad...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Too late to save themselves from having their 'dumb' conglomerates eaten by Google and Facebook.

    • Before it beats them at Starcraft.
    • Too late to cash in on the final blow to the concept of employment and position themselves such that they can continue to create scarcity and become the arbiters of who will be fed and housed for the rest of human civilization.
    • Whoever controls the first general AI controls the world.

      • Whoever controls the first general AI controls the world.

        Assuming anyone controls it...

        • Yes, it could very well be the AI is in charge of itself. In which case, one can only hope it was instilled with a good sense of morality.

  • Wait until Google's computer beats them at Starcraft... then they'll really be pissed!
  • Employment rates keep rising, the youth employment rate has just reached the highest point in years. She's ruined just about everything including inter-Korea relations. I can't wait until she gets out of office. !
  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:52PM (#51729079)

    I recall 20 years ago when Deep Blue won against Kasparov, people said that an AI would never be able to brute-force Go well enough to beat a human master. It may not have used only brute-force techniques, but AlphaGo surely did win. I expect that arrangements are being made for the AI to face off against the #1 world Go champion (Sedol was #3 IIRC) and it may even take some tweaking for it to triumph. However this raises the question: where do we move the goalposts to next? What does AI have to accomplish to change how we fundamentally think of it, and consider it as 'real AI'?

    Many people have an AI assistant (ok a text-to-speech shortcut to a semantic search engine) in their pocket, and will soon be entrusting their lives daily to autonomous cars. Anyone else feeling like the singularity is coming?

    • Anyone else feeling like the singularity is coming?

      No, not really. None of these machines show emergence. They perform specific tasks well and nothing else. There are no Asimov style robot brains out there.

      • by waTeim ( 2818975 )
        No I think they do, though admittedly it's very narrow. In this case it's "construct new rules automatically (about winning Go) after experiencing winning and losing Go". The difference is the rules about how to play and the single Goal (winning) and what winning looks like are predefined. The objective function about how to go about winning is what is learned. For a different game insert new game mechanics and end positions and then let the same optimizer run. It might be interesting to se what happen
    • I recall 20 years ago when Deep Blue won against Kasparov, people said that an AI would never be able to brute-force Go well enough to beat a human master. It may not have used only brute-force techniques, but AlphaGo surely did win. I expect that arrangements are being made for the AI to face off against the #1 world Go champion (Sedol was #3 IIRC) and it may even take some tweaking for it to triumph. However this raises the question: where do we move the goalposts to next? What does AI have to accomplish

      • How many people can write songs, stories, or poems which meet human standards for quality and originality? Machines can now do all three, poorly, which makes them just as good at those tasks as the majority of humanity.
        To be honest, I plagiarized this answer. In the movie "I, Robot" (which the Slashdotariat hates, but was not bad), the robot lead was confronted with just that question by a human. The exact exchange is,
        "Detective Del Spooner: Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, y

        • by jfengel ( 409917 )

          Sonny the Robot could tell jokes, and hit the timing for a punch line. If a robot can do that, I'll consider it my equal.

          It's not the big stuff I'm looking for. It's the common, everyday stuff: telling jokes, folding laundry, telling a picture from a person... all at the same time rather than one algorithm specialized to it. Like people do. I really don't know how far we are from that; it feels like it's 20 years off, same as always. But the AlphaGo thing (using a neural network which just just possibly be

    • What does AI have to accomplish to change how we fundamentally think of it, and consider it as 'real AI'?

      Pass the Turing Test. The real Turing Test, not a pathetic make-believe one.

    • people said that an AI would never be able to brute-force Go well enough to beat a human master.

      That's still true. They had to prune a lot. (Although they also threw massive resources at it).

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Interacting with the real world seems to be the next big frontier. Some robots are already getting quite good at it. See how far robot vacuum cleaners and autonomous cars have come, for example. They have got a lot better at navigating and mapping their environment. Even so, making a cup of coffee is still rather difficult for robots.

    • We now have game AI that's really good at tactics but not so good at strategy (chess AIs), and we have game AI that's really good at strategy but not so good at tactics (AlphaGo with its failure to spot tesuji). The next step would be to make game AI that's good at both. See e.g. On Adversarial Search Spaces and Sampling-Based Planning [aaai.org]. The next step after that? I'd say incorporating the kind of strategic capabilities AlphaGo shows to make AIs for very large incomplete information games.
    • What you have in your pocket is just a terminal that can call the search engine through the Internet. The actual search engine wouldn't fit in your pocket.

  • with their Fifth Generation Computer Systems initiative. They demonstrated that just throwing money at the problem doesn't solve it.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      They came out with ideas like TRON . Have smart appliances that could interact with each other. Turn the cooker on, and the extractor fan goes on as well. Turn the stereo on and the windows close (to stop neighbors hearing loud music). If your alarm clock goes on, the lights in the house go on.

      There was considerable research into expert systems back then. They thought everything could be solved using binary decision trees. But then they realized that things weren't yes/no but more definitely/possibly/no eff

      • by tomhath ( 637240 )

        Turn the stereo on and the windows close

        They must have a bit flipped somewhere, because every kid riding down the road in his ricer has the stereo full blast and the windows wide open. The worse the "music" the louder it's played. Now get off my lawn.

  • ... pachinko! That'll put off the singularity for at least a century or more.
  • On a semi-side note, other AI co's should sue IBM for their Watson ads because the ads make it sound like Watson is actually carrying on a conversation. It's all pre-scripted by humans, though.

  • Back in 2006, I was asked on Slashdot what my advice would be to students interested in a career in AI. I told them to get their PhD under Hutter. Hutter's first students were founders of Google DeepMind thence AlphaGo.

    I'm now, as then, advising investment in compression prizes [slashdot.org] for the same reason*. (And thanks to Matt Mahoney for pointing me to Hutter's AIXI theory way back then.)

    *An additional reason today is founding "friendly AI" on understanding natural language. Before "friendliness [linkedin.com]", however one de

  • So, will there be a big hiring spree in South Korea? What does it take to work there?
  • All it will take for the inflexion point to happen is that the AI computer designs better AI computers than humans can.

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