PROBABLY the CTO of every large technology company has to be a futurist. But it's a rare CTO who speaks at the Singularity Summit to consider the prospects for an artificial general intelligence surpassing humans. But Intel's CTO, Justin Rattner, laid out the future of Moore's Law to a packed auditorium for whom computational speed is a near-religious experience.
Yet Rattner says afterwards that raw speed won't be enough. "I once asked our speech recognition team if there was any direct relationship between machine computing speed and recognition accuracy and after a long pause, they said – because they knew I was not going to be happy with the answer – no." He asked why: "Our recognition performance is limited by our algorithmic understanding, not by our instruction speed. We can give you the wrong answer much faster, but we can't give you the right answer much faster."
Speech recognition is, of course, just one of many tasks even a very young human can do routinely and simultaneously.
"It's clearly a case where, until we have the right algorithms, no amount of performance improvement is going to give us the recognition performance a young child can deliver. That's why I try to separate out these notions a little. I have little doubt that when we figure it out we'll require lots of computing power, so there's no sense in abandoning it."
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