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Tuesday, 30 May 2017 14:15

Does an IQ of 10,000 scare you?

This week in a commentary on PBS in their brief but spectacular series a Stanford professor named Sebastian Thrun spoke about the progress of artificial intelligence and the fact that some day in the not-too-distant future there will be machines with an IQ of 10,000.  Have you ever thought of the I have been.  That’s absolutely mind boggling!

How do they even measure an IQ that hgh? If a machine has that kind of IQ what do they need us for?

What gives professor Thrun some credibility is that for the past 10 years he has been working on driverless cars.  When he started he was told that this is a way to throw away his professional career and this would never happen.  Since we now have driverless cars and someday they may put about 3.5 million people who drive for a living out of business-- I think we need to pay attention to Dr. Thrun.

I have reprinted below the transcript from the PBS series.

“SEBASTIAN THRUN, Founder, Google X: Artificial intelligence is to the human brain what the steam engine has been to the human muscle.

Before the agricultural revolution, most of us were farmers, and our distinguishing capabilities were our physical strength and agility. And then we invented machines that make us stronger and, all of a sudden, one farmer can make food for 150 people.

And this has unleashed a flurry of amazing innovations, like airplanes, cell phones, jobs you never heard of like software engineer or TV anchor, all these wonderful things. That is about to change once again.

I think we're going to look back and find that driving a car is just like the same way the Middle Ages look from today's perspective. We kill over a million people every year in this world using traffic accidents.

And that's an intolerably high number. We text, we make phone calls, we're fatigued, we're sometimes even drunk when driving and all this stuff. A self-driving car doesn't text, it doesn't fatigue, it looks in all directions, it's never drunk, and it emerges as a safe alternative to human driving.

I have a 9-year-old. I would love to put him in a driverless car and say, go to school on your own. And he would love it, because it would give him the ability to go around and organize his own play dates.

I think every technology comes with its risks and with its possibility for abuse. I mean, you can take a kitchen knife, and you can cut your food, or you can kill somebody or hurt somebody with the same knife. And the same is true for every technology we invent.

So, I think what's important is that we approach these technologies with responsibility. The next generation of technology is going to be called artificial intelligence. And we're going to have an I.Q. of 10,000. We're going to be able to solve every problem and know everything there is to know just by using A.I.

My students and I recently did work on artificial intelligence for detecting skin cancer, and we found that if we train an artificial intelligence with about 130,000 images, we can find skin cancer basically using an iPhone as accurately as the best board-certified dermatologist.

And that's sensational, because now we can take the skill of a Stanford doctor and bring that skill to the entire world by a platform that everybody already has, which is a smartphone.

Every time I talk through my phone — and it's probably about an hour a day — it could analyze my speech and thereby find things like Alzheimer's much, much, much earlier than we find it today.

And that's exciting, because it would mean we would be able to cure and treat those diseases at a stage when they're often still curable.

I can tell you, when I started working on self-driving cars more than 10 years ago, most of my professor colleagues told me it's impossible and I'm wasting my time and possibly my career.

When you look at the Wright brothers, 100 years ago, the world's experts had come together and concluded that it's impossible, there will not be such a thing as flight.

So, when you go forward, why can't we cure all of cancer? Why can't we cure heart failure and heart diseases? And why can't cars fly in the future? Why do they have to be on the ground?

I mean, all these things, when you think through it, the answer might be very different from what the past tells us.

My name is Sebastian Thrun, and this is my Brief, But hopefully Spectacular take on imaging the future.”

Other people have decidedly darker visions of an intelligence that dwarfs our own.  Laurence Koktikoff did a very interesting and brief economic analysis of artificial intelligence of robots and of course Stephen Hawking believes that artificial intelligence will be the most dangerous challenge of our time.

Those are concerns for another blog. For the moment I am still trying to digest an IQ of 10,000 and the idea that a cell phone and algorithm can diagnose skin cancer as well as a board-certified dermatologist.

Friday, 05 May 2017 21:42

Take Off Your Shoes!

It never ceases to amaze me how germs are everywhere. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a Howard Hughes type germophobe !

I read an article recently that said by taking off your shoes when you come into your house, your house will be about 15 percent cleaner. Not exactly sure what 15 percent cleaner means --but recently I read an article online that really got my attention.

Copy the link below and put it in your browser and see what I mean.


Here is the gist of it reprinted:

Researchers at the University of Houston found that about 40% of shoes were carrying the nasty “C.diff” bacterium, which stands for Clostridium difficile. These spores are not at all easy to treat.

The study found that this C.diff was not only on shoe soles (about 40% of the total examined), but also spread around other household areas such as toilets, tops and surfaces, and wherever floor dust was found. These spores can live on dry surfaces for a long time.

The problem with treating an infection caused by C.diff is that it is resistant to most antibiotics. This can cause the bacterium to proliferate and make recovery very difficult for the patient. The linings in the intestines are attacked, resulting in colitis. Many people in hospitals pick up the C.diff infection and it is becoming more difficult to treat.

Now, you don’t want this bacteria as a guest in your home, do you? Off with the shoes and on with the slippers.


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