Originally published February 7 2014
Google's big plans to make your brain irrelevant
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Technology is advancing at an alarming pace - perhaps faster now than at any time in our history - and the major technology companies are leading the charge.
One such firm is search and media giant Google, but the tech company isn't just interested in finding new and better ways to deliver ads and create online communities. No, Google wants much more than that: to make your brain a lot less relevant than it currently is.
According to Wired, the San Francisco-based company is on a "buying spree," snatching up all sorts of startup firms that are focused primarily on the development of artificial intelligence (AI):
Google is on a shopping spree, buying startup after startup to push its business into the future. But these companies don't run web services or sell ads or build smartphone software or dabble in other things that Google is best known for. The web's most powerful company is filling its shopping cart with artificial intelligence algorithms, robots, and smart gadgets for the home. It's on a mission to build an enormous digital brain that operates as much like the human mind as possible - and, in many ways, even better.
No longer just a science fiction movie
Just a few days ago, Google execs confirmed that the company bought a stealthy AI startup called DeepMind. Reports said that Google paid a small fortune - something in the range of the mid-hundreds of millions - for the British-based company. Google officials did not officially release cost figures, but if history is a guide, "that enormous figure is in line with the rest of its recent activity," Wired reported.
That money, however, is just a drop in the bucket of Google's total acquisition spending in recent months.
For instance, the acquisition of DeepMind follows on the heels of Google's $3.2 billion purchase of smart thermostat and alarm developer Nest, as well as a gaggle of cutting edge robotics companies (some with defense purposes) and another AI startup, DNNresearch.
What's coming: Google plans to spread smart computer technology into as much of our everyday lives as possible - in our cars, our homes and, eerily, our bodies - but most importantly, the tech giant wants to develop a futuristic artificial intelligence that is capable of operating these devices, along with existing smartphone and web services:
Though Google is out in front of this AI arms race, others are moving in the same direction. Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft are doubling down on artificial intelligence too, and are snapping up fresh AI talent. According to The Information, Mark Zuckerberg and company were also trying to acquire DeepMind.
Looks like Google beat Mark to it.
And with advanced technology comes inevitable job losses
Google's powerful web search engine already uses a potent type of AI to locate what you're looking for on the vast and chaotic World Wide Web. On top of this search capability, Google has built a widely profitable ad business. But its most recent moves involve hiring more and more geniuses to help explore and develop a new branch of AI known as "deep learning."
The basic concept is this: Mimic the biological structure (and function?) of the human brain with software so that it can then build machines that are capable of learning "organically" - without human involvement in the process, in other words.
DeepMind is one step along this new high-tech highway.
Not all of this AI development is positive, however. Beside just the very nature of the effort - machines that can learn on their own - so much technological replacement of our higher functions is troubling to ethicists. And there are those who are worried for more practical reasons, as reported by Britain's The Telegraph newspaper:
The development of artificial intelligence - thrown into spotlight this week after Google spent hundreds of millions on new technology - could mean computers take over human jobs at a faster rate than new roles can be created, experts have warned.
Though technology has been replacing human workers for decades now, as it advances more rapidly, economists and other experts worry that machine-induced job losses will also accelerate.
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