Demis Hassabis of Google's DeepMind on AI: Three things he said about Siri-like smart assistants, AI helping doctors and a possible killer robot future

Lynsey Barber
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A future with AI awaits

Demis Hassabis, founder of the British artificial intelligence company DeepMind which was snapped up by Google for millions, has spoken about the implications of a future with AI, from healthcare to smart assistants - but warned misusing the technology could do harm.

Speaking in a rare interview with the BBC, he addressed warnings made by other major entrepreneurs and scientists, who have spoken out about a robot-filled future which could end up being rather bad for humans.

Here's what he said.

1. On Siri-like smart assistants

"Search doesn't really understand your intent, or the semantics of what it is you're trying to do, so at a certain level it's limited in how much it can tell you."

"What we dream of is ultimately, is maybe a smart assistant on your smartphone that you can converse with and actually ask in natural language the questions you're after... and also maybe preemptively come up with answers at a useful moment in time befoe you realised you needed it."

Read more: One chart showing artificial intelligence is better than humans

2. On AI helping doctors

"If you've had an accident and go into A&E, really, it could be a few hours before a doctor will come and see you, and it doesn't really matter what kind of injury you have - it could be quite serious, it could be quite minor - but you have to through this one size fits all system and pipeline."

"Instead of that, imagine a nurse could take some of your symptoms. That could be fed into some sort of database or intelligent system, that could inform or alert the doctors at the A&E that it's actually a very urgent case, or that this other one could wait for a few hours and it won't make much difference.

"I think this could have a big difference if you then look into predictive, like a 30-day outcome what will happen, it can find these correlations and causalities and actually help the doctors and healthcare providers do something about that."

3. On the power of AI

"I think artificial intelligence is like any powerful new technology. It has to be used responsibly. If it's used irresponsibly it could do harm. I think we have to be aware of that and I think that people developing that - us and other companies and universities - need to realise and take seriously our responsibilities and to have ethical concerns at the top of our minds."

"We engage very actively with [the artificial intelligence] community - at MIT, at Cambridge, at Oxford - so there are a lot of academic institutes thinking about this and we engage with them very actively and openly with our research. I think there are valid concerns and they should be discussed and debated now, decades before there's anything that's actually of any potential consequence or power that we need to worry about, so we have the answers in place well ahead of time."

Read more the full interview here.

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