Android Creator Andy Rubin Says AI Is the Future of Computing
Are the machines taking over? Not yet, of course. But to the man behind the Android mobile operating system, machines that can out-think people will someday be part of our everyday lives.
Addressing the Code/Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif., this week, Andy Rubin predicted that AI will form the basis of the next big development in computing. Rubin led the mobile software development efforts at Google from 2005 until he left the company last year. He’s generally credited with being the main creative driver behind Android.
Rubin told tech journalist Walt Mossberg that someday all the data and information going to and from Internet-connected devices, along with quickly evolving deep learning technologies, will create highly intelligent AI networks.
"There is a point in time -- I have no idea when it is; it won't be in the next 10 years, or 20 years -- where there is some form of AI, for lack of a better term, that will be the next computing platform," Rubin told the conference audience.
An Extra Brain
Rubin is predicting a time when smartphones, tablets, thermostats, smoke detectors and cars will create massive amounts of data that can be analyzed by deep learning technologies, leading to the first true artificial intelligence networks. Those networks will be able to tell users such things as the temperatures their thermostats are set to, when they have workouts scheduled, and whether there is too much chlorine in their pools.
Rubin is not only bullish on the future of AI, he’s staked his career on it. Rubin left Google to found the startup incubator Playground Global, which provides resources, mentorship and funding to startups that make hardware devices. The incubator recently closed on about $300 million in financing. Playground has already invested in a deep learning hardware startup called Nervana Systems, among other similar companies.
What Is Intelligence?
We reached out to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, who told us that part of the issue when it comes to AI reaching that kind of ubiquity might depend on how intelligence is defined and quantified.
"What we often forget is that AI could redefine what intelligence is and at some future point humans may not be able to make that bar," said Enderle. "Rubin is correct that intelligent machines will redefine computing and result in a disruption that will exceed that of the industrial revolution, as human jobs are displaced and these systems permeate everything from health care to government and particularly defense."
Rubin’s comments might be seen as optimistic next to those of such notables as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Tesla founder Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. All have said in varying ways that it will be decades, if not centuries, before sentient machines will come close to surpassing human intelligence.
"Folks like Hawking have been advising caution," said Enderle. "[Rapidly evolving AI] could result in a rate of change that societies can’t adjust to quickly enough and when that happens the results can be catastrophic, even if these new intelligent machines don’t act against people."