AI Grand Challenges: Past, Present and Future

author: Ganesh Mani, Carnegie Mellon University
published: May 3, 2021,   recorded: May 2021,   views: 15

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Innovative, bold initiatives that capture the imagination of researchers and system builders are often required to spur a field of science or technology forward. A vision for the future of AI and some significant challenge goals were laid out by Turing Award winner and Carnegie Mellon University Professor Raj Reddy in his 1988 AAAI Presidential address and published in AI magazine then. Recently – in the Spring 2021 issue of the same magazine – I provided an accounting of the progress that has been made in the field, over the last three decades, towards the challenge goals. While some tasks such as the world-champion chess machine were accomplished in short order, many others such as self-replicating systems require more focus and breakthroughs for completion. A new set of challenges for the current decade were also proposed, spanning the Health, Wealth and Wisdom spheres. Commentary by thought leaders from different vantage points was also presented to round out the analysis and avenues for future research. In this keynote on Earth Day, I will try and summarize some of the above and hint at how AI can aid progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I hope that the discussion sparks additional innovation – spanning the technical, policy and social pillars – in the process of weaving an AI Web for Good. Easy-to-use AI systems that act independently in stimulus-rich environments and also team with humans in confusing scenarios is what the designers are seeking. The mantra should be: Of the people, by the people with machines; for the people!

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