Big urban cities in North America will be transformed by 2030 by artificial intelligence technologies, as self-driving cars, package-delivering robots and surveillance drones become commonplace, according to a new report.
The report, produced by an international panel of artificial intelligence experts convened by Stanford University, takes an in-depth look at how artificial intelligence is already impacting society and how it will continue to evolve over the next 14 years. It is the first report in a planned series of studies looking at artificial intelligence, or AI, that will continue for at least 100 years.
"Until now, most of what is known about AI comes from science fiction books and movies," said Peter Stone, a computer science professor at the University of Texas who chaired the panel that produced the report. "This study provides a realistic foundation to discuss how AI technologies are likely to affect society."
One of the key takeaways from the report refutes a common depiction of artificial intelligence in Hollywood: It likely won't go rogue any time soon and wipe out society ala Skynet in the Terminator movies.
But humans using artificial intelligence in the wrong way can hurt other humans.
And we do face the likely scenario that the technology is poised to soon replace people in certain kinds of jobs, such as taxi and truck drivers, according to the report.
"However, in many realms, AI will likely replace tasks rather than jobs in the near term, and will also create new kinds of jobs," the report's authors wrote. "But the new jobs that will emerge are harder to imagine in advance than the existing jobs that will likely be lost."
So exactly what is artificial intelligence?
The report's authors concede that it can be difficult to define. In movies, artificial intelligence is most commonly depicted as self-aware robots.
"I think the first thing to understand is that AI is not a thing," Stone said. "That's an important part of this report."
The reality is artificial intelligence is nuanced technology. And it is already woven into our daily lives to the point most of us give it little thought.
For example, computer "vision" is a kind of this technology that drives the kind of video games that give players simulated experiences that appear to mirror the real world.
It's also the kind of technology known as "deep learning" that makes it possible for Siri and other programs to understand what we say and respond.