Book shows how little we still know about machine learning

LAST month, when the self-learning algorithm AlphaGo triumphed over South Korean Go master Lee Se-Dol, it made sensational news. Some even saw the victory as a step toward humanity’s eventual enslavement by robots. Naturally, such alarmist views were often accompanied by calls to rein in these “thinking” machines before it’s too late. There were also more optimistic predictions that “smarter” machines might be pressed into the service of human beings. This could be a boon in China’s own rapidly aging society. Such sentiments are, as a rule, inflamed by reporters who lack the sophistication to properly explain the situation. This inadequacy (as well as other motives) inclines them to interpret the result of the Go game as nothing short of a testament to the power of the machines. Those looking…


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