A group of scientists and entertainers alike spent an evening at the SoHo House discussing the relevance of artificial intelligence (AI) in our everyday lives. Dr. Brian Milch went beyond a discussion of how AI works and posed the interesting question of whether or not this “machine approach to learning” actually understands. This concept of understanding begins with the formation of patterns in an image. Chuckles erupted from the audience when Dr. Milch presented a number of images that the AI machine incorrectly interpreted. After the lecture, suspicious questions as to whether humans would become slaves to these AI machines still soared despite the example that this machine could not even necessarily tell the difference between a pink car and a red one.
Dr. Bill Swartout moved beyond the discussion of how AI forms these concepts and toward one of how this technology can be used to create virtual humans. Dr. Swartout works with the USC Shoah Foundation to create virtual figures of Holocaust survivors that are totally interactive, 3D, and capable of conversation. By the end of his talk, the overall power of the virtual character seemed undeniable and almost unbelievable, causing the audience to laugh at the true human nature coming from a computer-made virtual human.
The evening concluded with a Q&A session, which seemed as though it would never end considering the eager show of hands.