The future of artificial intelligence: two experts disagree

Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to revolutionise our lives, drive our cars, diagnose our health problems, and lead us into a new future where thinking machines do things that we’re yet to imagine.

Or does it? Not everyone agrees.

Even billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who admits he has access to some of the most cutting-edge AI, said recently that without some regulation “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization”.

So what is the future of AI? Michael Milford and Peter Stratton are both heavily involved in AI research and they have different views on how it will impact on our lives in the future.

How widespread is artificial intelligence today?


Answering this question depends on what you consider to be “artificial intelligence”.

Basic machine learning algorithms underpin many technologies that we interact with in our everyday lives – voice recognition, face recognition – but are application-specific and can only do one very specific defined task (and not always well).

More capable AI – what we might consider as being somewhat smart – is only now becoming widespread in areas such as online retail and marketing, smartphones, assistive car systems and service robots such as robotic vacuum cleaners.


The most obvious and useful examples of current AI are the speech recognition on your phone, and search engines such as Google. There is also IBM’s Watson, which in 2011 beat human champion players at the US TV game show Jeopardy, and is now being trialled in business and healthcare.

Most recently, Google’s DeepMind AI called AlphaGo beat the world champion Go player, surprising a lot of people – especially since Go is an extremely complex game, way surpassing chess.

Chinese Go player Ke Jie competes against Google’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo.

What major advances in AI will we see over the next 10 years?


Many auto manufacturers and research institutions are competing to create practical driverless cars for general road use. While currently these cars can drive themselves for much of the time, many challenges remain in dealing with bad weather (heavy rain, fog and snow) and random real-world events such as roadworks, accidents and other blockages.

These incidents often require some degree of human judgement, common sense and even calculated risk to successfully navigate through. We are still a long way…

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