With its subsidiary DeepMind, Google has made artificial intelligence its priority. With dreams of designing a personal assistant capable of finding information and acting in our place, without even asking us.
In 2006, a blog dedicated to Google imagined the year 2038. In this trans-humanistic story, the user is assisted by a “personal information agent”. This AI, delivered from any physical medium, is “connected via Google to all the knowledge of the world”. This “smart robot”, this “cybernetic friend”, is the “representative in the physical world of Google AI”.
10 years later, reality is catching up with fiction. AI research has taken a giant step, especially since DeepMind, a subsidiary of Google, has designed a program, AlphaGo, able to defeat the world champion Go game through Deep Learning.
In his first letter to shareholders, the new CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, welcomed the victory: “This is a step towards the creation of an AI that can help us accomplish any everyday life, and even face greater challenges, such as the fight against climate change and the diagnosis of cancer “.
An AI looking for info for us
While Facebook swears by virtual reality, advocating too, but in the background, his “chatbots”, Google has made AI its priority. Just like Microsoft. But while the latter dreams of an “army of chatbots” related to his AI, Cortana … Google sees further. The firm, which is one step ahead of its competitors in Deep Learning, dreams of a unique AI, able to guess everything you need.
Sundar Pichai announces a future where AI “will take precedence over smartphones”, these “remote controls of our daily life”. In his letter, he returns to the original activity of the company: its search engine. “Our goal remains the same, to make knowledge available to everyone,” he writes. But the idea is to go further by designing an AI capable of seeking information for us, without us asking. And where Siri and Cortana remain systems whose answers are pre-programmed, Google’s AI would answer for itself.
Designed with Deep Learning, this “smart assistant”, this web-powered chatbot, “will help you all day long. It will take into account your situation and your needs. It will help you at the right time, in the right way, “says Sundar Pichai.
Profit domain vs trans-humanism
The first “machine for general purpose learning” imagined by Google would be able, one day, to “work in tandem” with us, to help us on a daily basis … before solving the problems of humanity.
One way to change the world? The reality is perhaps more down to earth: the personal assistants that equip our smartphones are more and more popular. And Alphabet, which is starting to notice a slowdown in profits, is putting this profitable sector to the test. Pichai describes the AI to its shareholders as “a technology taking off”. “3 billion people are looking for information on small devices that they take everywhere with them,” he notes. 3 billion: an Eldorado.
But let’s not forget Google’s transhumanistic ideal shared by its new CEO. Here’s what Eric Schmidt said in 2010: “We are trying to build an augmented humanity, creating systems to help people do things better than they can do well …”