The trouble with the future is that it never seems to arrive. That’s why we call it the future. We consequently have this bad habit of taking the present, and all the wondrous and horrific things it has to offer, for granted. As a reminder that we’re actually living in the future of a not-so-distant past, we present to you a list of the most futuristic things that happened in 2017.

AI continued its steady march toward the Singularity

This year was a huge one for artificial intelligence, and we’re clearly in the midst of a bona fide hype cycle. But while this boom period for AI will most certainly experience an inevitable bust (at least on the economic side), there were some important developments and breakthroughs in the field, several of which involved some of humanity’s favourite – and most complicated – games.Just a year after DeepMind’s AlphaGo became the first artificial intelligence to defeat a grandmaster at the game of Go, a souped-up version of the program, dubbed AlphaGo Zero, taught itself how to dominate the ancient board game from scratch. Using reinforcement learning, the system acquired literally thousands of years of human Go knowledge after just three days of playing against itself, and without any external help. In a tournament that pitted AI against AI, AlphaGo Zero defeated the regular AlphaGo by a whopping 100 games to 0, signifying a major advance in the field. As the DeepMind researchers stated in their accompanying Nature paper, “Our results comprehensively demonstrate that a pure reinforcement learning approach is fully feasible, even in the most challenging of domains: it is possible to train to superhuman level, without human examples or guidance, given no knowledge of the domain beyond basic rules.” It was a small step for AI, a giant leap towards humanity’s inevitable obsolescence

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