a16z Podcast: Revenge of the Algorithms (Over Data)… Go! No?

There are many reasons why we’re in an “A.I. spring” after multiple “A.I. winters” — but how then do we tease apart what’s real vs. what’s hype when it comes to the (legitimate!) excitement about artificial intelligence and machine learning? Especially when it comes to the latest results of computers beating games, which not only captures our imaginations but has always played a critical role in advancing machine intelligence (whether it’s AI winning Texas Hold’em poker or beating the world human champ in the ancient Chinese game of Go).

But on learning that Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo can master the game of Go without human knowledge — or more precisely: “based solely on reinforcement learning, without human data, guidance, or domain knowledge beyond game rules” — some people leap too far towards claims of artificial generalized intelligence. So where can we then generalize the findings of such work — unsupervised learning, self-play, etc. — to other specific domains? What does it mean for entrepreneurs building companies (and what investors look for)? And what does it mean for how we, as humans, learn… or rather, how computers can also learn from how we learn?

Deal and research operating team head Frank Chen and a16z board partner Steven Sinofsky ponder all this and more, in conversation with Sonal Chokshi, in this episode of the a16z Podcast. We ended last time with the triumph of data over algorithms and begin this time with the triumph of algorithms over data … is this the end of big data?