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Top 10 TED Talks on Robotics and AI That You Must See to Believe

Worried about the coming machine-related apocalypse? Learn all you can about our future robot overlords by watching the best TED Talks on robotics and AI.

In the past, I was both incredibly afraid of artificial intelligence and its future development and mostly unaware of what AI even was. I believe the same could be said about the majority of people today. Most have seen Terminator, I, Robot, or some kind of content that paints a dystopian future where mankind is responsible for its own doom through technology. However, many could not give an accurate description of what AI is or how it is being used in today's society. There are startling facts and myths about AI but it's hard to differentiate the two. 

Fortunately, it is easy to learn more about this topic. Since there have been a plethora of great TED Talks on robotics and AI, it would be foolish not to dip into the free resource to acquire greater knowledge. So if you want to genuinely know more about AI or get the best ways to fight off the robots in the future, here are my favorites that can help. 

"What AI Is — and Isn't" by Sebastian Thrun and Chris Anderson

Let's start off with understanding the basics. Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Talks since 2002, interviews computer scientist Sebastian Thrun, as he gives an overview of the current landscape of AI. Thrun certainly knows what he's talking about. This interview is about 24 and a half minutes long and will give you a lot of background knowledge and understanding.

Thrun believes that the tech community can allow humans to be more creative by solving problems that will make life easier for all. The German entrepreneur plays up technology and how it is helpful to us, and what it could look like in the future. The claim that "only one percent of interesting things have been invented yet," is both inspiring and closer to the truth than many may think.

"Can We Build AI Without Losing Control Over It?" by Sam Harris

Perhaps the most famous person to discuss this topic, neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris tackles whether or not humans can safely create AI. If you only watch one of the TED Talks on robotics and AI, make sure it is this one. Harris is incredibly well-spoken and makes complex, intricate situations easy to follow and understand. 

Almost going in the opposite direction of Thrun, Harris explores the potential downfalls of technology and our relationship with it. The acclaimed neuroscientist gives insights as well as warnings about technology: the comparison with ants and humans is spooky, to say the least. Harris puts all of the cards you are worrying about on the table while not going overboard in the fear department. It's a great presentation and keeps you interested the entire time. 

"What Happens When Our Computers Get Smarter Than We Are?" by Nick Bostrom

Nick Bostrom is a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford and gives this TED Talk on robotics and AI, focusing on what will happen when all computers are smarter than humans. Bostrom goes in-depth on what values should be placed into AI and future technology and how that can prevent the Terminator-esque war from occurring in the future.

"Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make." While that may sound exciting to some, it just reeks of danger to the paranoid few (or many, probably many). 

"The Real Reason to Be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence" by Peter Haas

Peter Haas starts his talk by saying he works with machines and is terrified of them and their capability of rising up. Finally, someone who gets it. Haas believes that it is not the intelligence we should fear but the humans who program them, making this one of the more unique TED Talks on robotics and AI. 

The "mistakes" that these systems and algorithms make are not just wrong, most of the time they are way off, Haas says. His recount of how developers and programmers can be incredibly unaware of mistakes or biases these AIs showcase is frightening. However, he does call for change in accountability and transparency for developers while offering solutions to these problems.  

"Artificial Intelligence: It Will Kill Us" by Jay Tuck

As you can guess from the title, this TED Talk deals with one slightly negative ramification that may occur if machine intelligence continues to develop. Jay Tuck fears the future developments of AI and he explains why through real-life examples and instances. He focuses on Google and its advances in machine intelligence and several drones being experimented on currently. There may be things more dangerous than AI but Tuck may just convince you otherwise.

"The Rise of Artificial Intelligence Through Deep Learning" by Yoshua Bengio

Deep learning is a term often associated with AI. Yoshua Bengio's presentation focuses on this machine learning technique that allowed a computer to beat Go grandmaster Lee Sedol. The game Go is more intuition-based than chess, making it harder for computers to beat human beings, until recently. 

Bengio gives one of the easier TED Talks on robotics and AI to follow, much like Sam Harris did. He tells you how the computer was able to beat a Go grandmaster through deep learning, and what this could mean for the future. 

"How Will Artificial Intelligence Affect Your Life" by Jeff Dean

Where better to learn about AI than from Google's top expert on it? Jeff Dean is a computer scientist and software engineer, he is currently the head of Google's AI division. Dean reviews what computers and programs are capable of doing and how this was achieved. He details how TensorFlow was created by his team and how it can be utilized by anyone.

This TED Talk is informational and describes the history of how we have arrived at this stage in the tech world. Dean simultaneously compares the past with the present and how these can affect the future. If you're not going to listen to the head of Google in this department, you may as well not even bother trying to learn more. 

"How AI Can Bring on a Second Industrial Revolution" by Kevin Kelly

On the brighter side of TED Talks on robotics and AI, Kevin Kelly discusses how technology can actually lead us to a more promising future full of prosperity. The founding executive editor of Wired magazine gives examples of how AI is part of everyone's lives already without many even knowing it. Generally more upbeat than the other videos on here, Kelly dulls the fear for those worried about the future. 

"AI Is Eating Our World" by Fabian Westerheide

Fabian Westerheide is a big fan of AI. He's such a big fan that he created an entire company to invest in AI-specific start-ups. Asgard, Westerheide's company, is the manifestation of his passion for technology. Despite the title being slightly misleading, this TED Talk is pro-AI and showcases how companies utilize machine intelligence and how widespread it already is. Westerheide believes AI is helpful, works for us, and is the future because it already is the present.

"Understanding Artificial Intelligence and Its Future" by Neil Nie

Neil Nie's data-heavy presentation focuses primarily on AI and image recognition. Nie compares how computers and tech systems learn and get better at things by practicing them, much like humans. The speed of growth of technology as shown by Nir in this TED Talk is both remarkable and slightly worrying. 

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Top 10 TED Talks on Robotics and AI That You Must See to Believe
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