Eric Schmidt Underestimated How AI Would Advance

February 17, 2017 - Written By Daniel Fuller

Google’s ex-CEO and current chairman of Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, says that his preconceptions about artificial intelligence have been shattered in recent years, and current CEO Sundar Pichai is the one who has mostly been responsible for that. During his time as the CEO of Google, Schmidt admits that he vastly underestimated the potential of artificial intelligence, the advancements it would experience in the very near future, and the huge amount of use cases it could be applied to. Schmidt said that he initially thought that AI could be used quite effectively for specialized tasks, but would not scale out to a more general roster of possibilities, and especially not out into the consumer space. He went on to say that we are still in the very early days of teaching AI to learn and expand as human minds do, and that such a development is likely still many years away.

Current CEO Sundar Pichai paints a different picture. He sees AI as not only an incredible, and quickly developing technology, but as a mission-critical tool of the modern tech world. Pichai hasn’t just stated his vision for AI, though; he has backed his words up by having Google massively expand their AI efforts during his short reign as CEO thus far, to great effect. Google Assistant is one of the most obvious examples, but specialized training for machine learning and the rise of the neural Google Brain both stand as strong proof of Pichai’s commitment to AI, as well as a show of just how far the nascent technology has already come.

Pichai believes that we are already in the midst of an “AI-first” age, and he may very well be right. AI is shaping the face of new and old technologies, such as self driving cars, how people interact with their smartphones, and even personal computers. The notion that AI will start to beat humans at basic tasks and take jobs in the near future has been thrown around, and recent advancements give no reason to think that won’t be the case. For what it’s worth, Schmidt is now completely on board with an AI-centric future, and Pichai is poised to have Google lead us there.