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Communications of the ACM

Economic and business dimensions

AI Futures: Fact and Fantasy

circuitry above the horizon and city skyline below the horizon, illustration

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"AlphaZero crushes chess!" scream the headlinesa as the AlphaZero algorithm developed by Google and DeepMind took just four hours of playing against itself (with no human help) to defeat the reigning World Computer Champion Stockfish by 28 wins to 0 in a 100-game match. Only four hours to recreate the chess knowledge of one and a half millennium of human creativity! This followed the announcement just weeks earlier that their program AlphaGoZero had, starting from scratch, with no human inputs at all, comprehensively beaten the previous version AlphaGo, which in turn had spectacularly beaten one of the world's top Go players, Lee Seedol, 4-1 in a match in Seoul, Korea, in March 2016.

Interest in AI has reached fever pitch in the popular imagination—its opportunities and its threats. The time is ripe for books on AI and what it holds for our future such as Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark, Android Dreams by Toby Walsh, and Artificial Intelligence by Melanie Mitchell.6,8,9 All three agree on the boundless possibilities of AI but there are also stark differences.


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