I have often written and spoken about “The Singularity.” It may sound like science fiction, but it is real. [Check out Kurzweil’s book at the right for a deep dive.]  All serious students of AI of whom I am aware agree that at some point, computers will have more computing power than a human brain, or even all human brains. I’m not talking about consciousness, sentience, souls, or anything metaphysical. I’m talking about sheer power to process data. Almost everyone agrees that the power of computers will accelerate at an extreme rate as they teach themselves without human assistance (control?). This has given rise to warnings by Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, among others. Some of these are clearly “clickbait,” but among the descriptions of The Singularity are:

– “runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization,”

– “end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate”

– “by 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence.” And  just a few years after that singularity humans will merge with machines.

Estimates as to when The Singularity will occur are all over the place, but the substantial majority range between 15 and 40 years from now. Most that I have seen lately are around 30 years (i.e., 2047).

I write all of that to provide perspective for this: The AI world is buzzing today because Google has made a significant stride toward The Singularity. Remember the recent breakthrough when AlphaGo beat the world’s best human Go player? (Go is vastly more complicated than chess.) Now a Google AI (Deepmind) has taught itself how to play Go and has beaten AlphaGo again and again (100 to 0).

Previous versions of AlphaGo built to compete against human masters of the game required hours and hours of training on Go gameplay, but AlphaGo Zero was able to teach itself to play in a matter of days using a technique called reinforcement learning. Details about this new tech, called “AlphaGo Zero” are here and here. Sample coverage from all over the world is here and here and here and here; and the Chinese are trying to catch up.

 

  • In this post, Ken Grady covers a couple of the major hurdles that need to be overcome for AI to really challenge human intelligence. Those are, ability to “reason” and achievement of “general intelligence.” (Sheer processing power is not a problem, and metaphysics is not really relevant.) This is related to AI someday actually practicing law.

 

  • I have recently been impressed by Apple’s inclusion of an AI-specific processor in the upcoming iPhone X. Recent press releases suggest that all major smart phone players are doing the same. And in related news, while some say Intel has been falling behind NVIDIA’s graphics chips in the AI race, this new class of chips may help Intel narrow the gap. “Intel Nervana Chip Aims To Revolutionize Artificial Intelligence.”

 

  • Here’s an example of DLA Piper’s AI practice’s work.

 

  • If you’re in the mood to read more about AI generally, this article has many excellent links.
  • Richard Susskind:  By 2036, he posits, “It is neither hyperbolic nor fanciful to expect that the legal profession will have changed beyond recognition.” Check out this article for comments by several others regarding the future impact of AI on lawyering. (My prognostication is that Susskind’s predictions are closer to what we’ll see than those of most of these nay-sayers.)

 

  • One of the developments that has caught me by surprise is the number of major players in AI who have open-sourced their tech. Here’s such an announcement from Intel. This is particularly good news for smaller companies (and law firms) who want to get into the game without huge investments. This author agrees about the benefit to smaller organizations.

 

  • Clifford Chance is staffing up to focus on cutting edge tech.

 

  • Big investments in:

Legal AI: Legal research leader ROSS Intelligence has landed an $8.7M investment from a group led by iNovia Capital. ROSS uses the IBM Watson AI engine and is now working with more than 20 law firms.

Marketing: A group led by Insight Venture Partners has purchased Nashville-based “Emma” a tech-driven eMarketing company.

 

  • The porn industry has been a driver of many tech innovations (e.g., VCRs, DVDs, augmented reality, Internet streaming). Now Pornhub is using facial recognition to identify and tag the “stars” of their videos.

 

  • Here’s a fun comparison by Time of where AI seems to really be headed vs its portrayal in Sc-Fi.
(Original Caption) Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Dwight Frye in a scene from the 1931 Universal Pictures production of Frankenstein.