Ray Kurzweil talks about his work at Google

Published on: March 22, 2013

Ray Kurzweil, who joined Google as Director of Engineering in December 2012, talked to Singularity Hub this week and provided an update about his first few months on the job.

The futurist, inventor and author, best known for his books on artificial intelligence, transhumanism and the technological singularity, was hired by the search giant to work on projects involving machine learning and language processing, which is an area Google has a keen interest in and has also explored over the years through semantic search.

While Kurzweil's focus on language stems from his belief that it is the window to creating a genuine artificial brain – he has predicted that machines will pass the Turing test by 2029 – Google's interest in the mechanics of language and semantics is the natural outcome of the engine's goal to better understand user intent and contextual use of search queries in order to improve the accuracy of search results.

Kurzweil explained that he joined the search giant's team "because the resources that we need were uniquely at Google. For example, the Knowledge Graph, which has 700 million different concepts and billions of relationships between those concepts. That's something you need to do what I'm doing at Google, which is understanding natural language, and it's not something you could create on your own, and there's a lot of resources like that uniquely at Google."

He also discussed what his work at Google entails. "My project is to actually get the Google computers to understand natural language, not just to search and answer questions based on links and words, but actually understand the semantic content. And that’s feasible now.

"Whereas reading one page, a computer can't do as good a job as a human, it can read many more pages. In fact, we can read every page on the web and every page in every book and actually find the knowledge not just based on a few keywords you provide, but based on the very specific questions that you can articulate in natural language, and by understanding the natural language in all those documents."

Natural language understanding, he says, "is the most important part of artificial intelligence. When Alan Turing defined the artificial intelligence field in 1950, he focused on natural language. The Turing test is based on natural language. It's basically an instant messaging game and if a computer can be indistinguishable from a human just in terms of written language communication, at least in his view, this was then operating at the full range of human intelligence. I accept that view."

Kurzweil says he is currently still assembling his team at Google. As for the search engine's plans for the team, he says, "There is a major priority on AI. We're gonna be actually developing software. It will be biologically inspired and we're gonna use the lessons that biological evolution learned in evolving the human brain and the neocortex to use those paradigms that create intelligent machines."

Watch the interview below.

Source: Singularity Hub

Tags: Google,