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No More AI Winters: Really !!

Blog: Jim Sinur

History teaches us that there were two large AI Winters in the past. One in starting in the mid 1970s and another in the late 1980’s There were very clear reasons for the last two AI Winters, but most of the technical and cost issues are gone. The wild card is how humans accept AI this time around. My bet is against another brutal winter. This does not mean there won’t be cold snaps, but a 15-20 year freeze out doesn’t seem likely now.

The First AI Winter:

It was caused by a couple of major factors. The first and foremost was the lack of computer power. The examples that were put forward were “toy” solutions that really did not appeal to the investors at all. This set off a period of infighting about Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the AI community which scared off the investors for a long time.

The Second AI Winter:

It was caused by the fact that the AI portion of an application had to run on a detached expensive LISP machine that really wasn’t that much more powerful that newer computers. To compound the situation, the AI systems were brittle and expensive to create and maintain. The isolation and expense was too much for users and investor alike kicking off an even longer AI winter.

What’s Different Now?

Net: Net:

There is no sure thing with this generation of AI, but if we all make AI easy and helpful as it takes on more challenging tasks, I think we can avoid another AI winter. The economic and computing power issues seem to be under control. It is now our job to make AI interface well with people to make them feel secure. All that stuff about AI taking the world over and turning on people sounds good for a fiction book. Do no harm otherwise ethics and law will likely have to change.

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