Technology makes people less empathetic

Artificial Intelligence and Art The sensitive algorithm

Artificial intelligence has long since arrived in our everyday lives. She makes our smartphones smarter, makes medical diagnoses and writes scripts. Could it soon be superior to us in terms of creativity and empathy - and will it even help us one day to immortality?

By Johannes Zeller

Artificial intelligence (AI) describes adaptive digital systems that independently improve their skills. They are helping us in more and more areas: in image analysis, in medical diagnostics, in forecasting stock markets, even in composing music. Also the script for the short film Sunspringwrote a computer program. The idea that a machine could be more intelligent and creative than we are gives many people goose bumps. Tesla founder Elon Musk even warned that AI was potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons and could trigger World War III.

Computer scientist Jürgen Schmidhuber, who is also known as the “father of AI” because of his development of neural networks, is more relaxed about the topic: “95 percent of AI research revolves around making human lives longer, easier and healthier,” explains he in an interview. Only five percent of AI research is devoted to the military sector, which should not worry anyone. An AI that is as intelligent, empathic and creative as a human is no longer a utopia for Schmidhuber. Neither does the idea that our brains could one day continue to live in intelligent machines.

AI can do a lot more than just math

Since he was 15, Schmidhuber has dreamed of developing an AI that is smarter than himself. Today he seems closer to his goal than ever before: since 1995 he has been head of the Dalle Molle Research Institute in Switzerland. The “Deep Learning Neural Networks” developed there are not only a groundbreaking advance in the field of machine learning, but also a best seller. They are used by the five leading digital companies in the world - Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and the Google parent company Alphabet - and can be found on over 3 billion smartphones. At the same time, the "Long Short-Term Memory" technology (LSTM), which was also introduced in 1997 by Schmidhuber and his colleague Sepp Hochreiter, has made great progress in the field of speech recognition and translation possible. The quick responses from Alexa, Amazon's voice-controlled assistant, are based on LSTM, for example.

Technology makes computers more quick-witted, giving them verbal abilities and personality at the same time. This is probably the reason why modern AI can trigger an uncomfortable feeling. When the Deep Blue chess computer defeated the chess master Garry Kasparov in 1996, and when the AlphaGo program won against the best human Go player in 2016, these were undoubtedly milestones in the field of AI research. Anyone who has ever had a conversation with Alexa, Siri or another voice-controlled assistant knows that these AIs are now becoming more and more similar to us on an emotional level.

An AI that can no longer be distinguished from humans in terms of empathy and creativity - this is what research at the Dalle Molle Institute could amount to. But experts in psychology and professionals from the creative industry don't have to tremble for their jobs yet. A clear indication of this isSunspring, the first film whose script was written by software. On the basis of LSTM, Oscar Sharp and Ross Goodwin had developed an automatic screenwriter called "Jetson". He was fed scripts from science fiction classics and superhero films, learned from them and wrote the script for the short film, which was eventually made into a film with Silicon Valley star Thomas Middleditch. The rather bizarre result was received positively at the Sci-Fi film festival in London. But the barely coherent dialogues and the erratic plot make it clear that the era of automatically generated box office hits has not yet dawned - which is not to say that we will not see the day.

A step towards greater complexity

In many medical fields, such as diagnostics, AI helps make our lives longer. But maybe one day it will make us immortal? We have known the idea of ​​scanning our brains and uploading them to a robot or playing them into a virtual reality since the 1960s from science fiction films. If you believe Schmidhuber, this is not physically impossible and could actually become a reality for some people. But in a fast-moving AI economy, such “uploaded brains” would have to develop very quickly so that they would ultimately become something completely different. Schmidhuber is therefore of the opinion that the earth for a fully developed AI would quickly become too small and that it would spread across the cosmos: “If we think the idea of ​​life further, I don't believe that humans play a major role in the spread of intelligence in the cosmos will play. But that's okay, we shouldn't see ourselves as the crown of creation. Human civilization is part of a much larger scheme - an important step, but not the last - on the universe's path to greater complexity. "

Science Year 2019 on Artificial Intelligence

In view of the growing importance of artificial intelligence, the Science Year 2019 is dedicated to the topic and calls on universities and companies to conduct research together. It is accompanied by numerous events nationwide. Public discussion rounds and hands-on activities deal with the coexistence of man and machine in society and on the labor market.

The calendar of events provides information about the next events on an ongoing basis.