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  • rmacculloch

The Boy from Rotorua who Changed the World. How? We Don't Know Yet.

Forget fancy pants folks growing up in posh suburbs in the likes of London, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo or Dubai. People who change the world can come from anywhere, any background. Take local boy, Shane Legg, who was a student at Rotorua Lakes High School. He is incredibly low key and yet gave up his time to quietly meet up with me in London many years ago during which we discussed some of NZ's long-standing constraints.

As co-founder of DeepMind, Shane has just been selected by TIME magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people in Artificial Intelligence. Deep Mind merged with Google Brain in April to form Google Deep Mind, of which Shane is chief. TIME's selection recognized "Shane Legg's research in the field of general artificial intelligence has a far longer horizon than the immediate one and is fundamental to understanding how much machines will be able to be truly equal, or even better, than humans"

In 2011, Shane estimated that there was a 50% chance that human-level machine intelligence would be created by 2028. Legg tells TIME he made this prediction more than 2 decades ago while working as a software engineer, after reading The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil, and that he has yet to change his mind.

What Shane says should scare the crap out of everyone on the planet. “If AI is making the world a better and more ethical place, then that’s very exciting,” he says. “I think there are many problems in the world that could be helped by having an extremely capable & ethical intelligence system. The world could become a much, much better place.”

So the future depends on whether the machines are "ethical"? Is he saying machines could create a more moral world than humans have created? In 2001 A Space Odyssey, the AI machine HAL went mad and tried to kill the crew who were attempting to shut HAL down. Shane better get the coding which makes the machine "ethical" done right.



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