This past week, I attended the first Amsterdam Artificial Intelligence Meetup, arranged by Markus Pfundstein and Simon Van Der Veen at Rockstart on Herengracht.
The first meeting was about getting to know each other and figuring out what direction would be most meaningful for the group. About twenty people attended and the group included quite a few startup founders, some students of artificial intelligence, and some like me who have a general interest in AI.
After a keynote describing the current state of AI by Markus, we split into break-out sessions on the achievability of real human level cognition in machines and the benefits of artificial intelligence for humans.
An interesting point that came up was the difficulty of creating consciousness when we are still unable to define exactly what it is. This led to the idea that our definition of consciousness still needs to evolve, that we may invent it and only realise it in hindsight. We think that we will use this challenge to gain a better understanding of our own intelligence and in gradations increase the levels of ability required for a machine to be declared truly intelligent. We also discussed that when a machine becomes intelligent it probably won’t be intelligent in a way we recognise but in a new, unfamiliar form. We discussed 3 achievement levels we should reach in our pursuit of the ultimate artificial intelligence: life, consciousness and self awareness.
Another interesting topic we discussed was the threat to our livelihoods if AI starts to replace human workers in the future. AI could replace a percentage of the workforce in the medium term because it will probably be faster, more efficient and cheaper than human workers. Equally, the standard of living of the entire human race has the potential to be lifted by the benefits of AI in making production and services more efficient in the form of a second machine age. But what will we do with all our extra time? We can consult AI’s about this too.
Other applications of AI mentioned during the Meetup included diagnosis of learning disabilities in children, security testing, analysis of trending news topics, asset management and stock market analysis.
In summary, we had inspiring discussions and made valuable connections. We validated our own knowledge, shared new ideas and had our preconceptions challenged. Such a Meetup is good to keep in touch with current events and update your basic knowledge or get in touch with a subject, as well as connecting with others with the same interests. The next meeting will be in April so stop by if you are in the neighbourhood.