Larry Page, Google Look Into AI

    February 19, 2007

Larry Page spoke before the Annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference on Friday, and he made some fairly standard remarks about working harder to solve humanity’s problems. One mildly interesting thing popped up, though: Page mentioned that Google is developing artificial intelligence.

All right, so that’s more than a little bit interesting. “We have some people at Google [who] are really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale,” the Google co-founder declared. “It’s not as far off as people think.”

What kind of product does that comment foreshadow, and what kind of timeframe does it imply? Well, nobody knows, but there are a lot of Terminator references floating around the Web, balanced out by numerous repetitions of the “do no evil” mantra. Some people have already picked out a name for the AI; Data seems to be a popular choice.

Google is known for its search engine, of course, and not for its androids, but Page led listeners in that direction. According to CNET’s Stefanie Olsen, the Google co-founder explained that “[t]he programming language of humans . . . would include the workings of your brain.” Page also guessed “that the brain’s algorithms weren’t all that complicated and could be approximated, eventually, with a lot of computational power.”

It sounds as if Page is anticipating a walking, talking Googlebot, or at least some sort of disconnected head. Given that there’s already a life-size spaceship model at the Googleplex, it doesn’t seem like a huge leap.

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