I can't let this go unremarked. This may be one of the greatest milestones in the history not only of technology, but of humanity, and it is not being noticed at all by the vast majority of people. A machine has created honest-to-God, deep beauty for the first time I am aware of. "At first, Fan Hui thought the move was rather odd. But then he saw its beauty. 'It’s not a human move. I’ve never seen a human play this move,' he says. 'So beautiful.' It’s a word he keeps repeating. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.” [https://www.wired.com/2016/03/sadness-beauty-watching-googles-ai-play-go/]
It’s referring to a move in the game Go. People didn’t think a machine would be able to beat a top human player for a long time to come. But it’s happening now.
This isn’t poetry or music or a painting, but to say that means it isn’t real beauty would be merely to not recognize that real beauty can occur in other contexts, such as the game of Go. What will the world be like when machines start creating beauty in the contexts most of us are more familiar with? There is already software that analyzes recorded music to determine what tracks are most likely to be hits, and it works fairly well. It “understands” the characteristics that make people want to listen to music enough to be able to tell whether those characteristics are present, to at least a degree that makes that software commercially worthwhile. If you combine that with the smarts it’s taking to beat the best mankind has to offer at Go, and create beauty in doing so, you have to wonder what will come next.
An important factor is the extreme rate at which artificial intelligence is getting better and better. People are projecting that it won’t be long until machines start designing new machines, using “ideas” that humans aren’t creating or, necessarily, fully comprehending… when that happens the rate of improvement will skyrocket, and it’s already quite extreme.
I await the future with excitement and trepidation.