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Monday, September 23, 2019

Podcast Interview with Hilary Mason on GigaOM

Another AI practitioner talks about the advances and future of AI:

Voices in AI – Bonus: A Conversation with Hilary Mason   By Byron Reese

On this Episode of Voices in AI features Byron speaking with Hilary Mason, an acclaimed data and research scientist, about the mechanics and philosophy behind designing and building AI.

Listen to this episode or read the full transcript at www.VoicesinAI.com

Byron Reese: This is Voices in AI, brought to you by Gigaom and I am Byron Reese. Today, our guest is Hilary Mason. She is the GM of Machine Learning at Cloudera, and the founder and CEO of Fast Forward Labs, and the Data Scientist in residence at Accel Partners, and a member of the Board of Directors at the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology, and the co-founder of hackNY.org. That’s as far down as it would let me read in her LinkedIn profile, but I’ve a feeling if I’d clicked that ‘More’ button, there would be a lot more.

Welcome to the show, amazing Hilary Mason!

Hilary Mason: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

I always like to start with the question I ask everybody because I’ve never had the same answer twice and – I’m going to change it up: why is it so hard to define what intelligence is? And are we going to build computers that actually are intelligent, or they can only emulate intelligence, or are those two things the exact same thing?

This a fun way to get started! I think it’s difficult to define intelligence because it’s not always clear what we want out of the definition. Are we looking for something that distinguishes human intelligence from other forms of intelligence? There’s that joke that’s kind of a little bit too true that goes around in the community that AI, or artificial intelligence, is whatever computers can’t do today. Where we keep moving the bar, just so that we can feel like there’s something that is still uniquely within the bounds of human thought.

Let’s move to the second part of your discussion which is really asking, ‘Can computers ever be indistinguishable from human thought?’ I think it’s really useful to put a timeframe on that thought experiment and to say that in the short term, ‘no.’ I do love science fiction, though, and I do believe that it is worth dreaming about and working towards a world in which we could create intelligences that are indistinguishable from human intelligences. Though I actually, personally, think that it is more likely we will build computational systems to augment and extend human intelligence. For example, I don’t know about you but my memory is horrible. I’m routinely absentminded. I do use technology to augment my capabilities there, and I would love to have it more integrated into my own self and my intelligence. ..... " 

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