TIME

THE TRUTH ABOUT ROBOTS

Artificial intelligence is powerful—and misunderstood. What we need to know to protect workers

IN 2015, A MAN NAMED NIGEL Richards won the title of French-language Scrabble World Champion. This was especially noteworthy because Richards does not speak French. What the New Zealander had done was memorize each of the 386,000 words in the entire French Scrabble dictionary, in the space of just nine weeks.

Richards’ impressive feat is a useful metaphor for how artificial intelligence works—real AI, not the paranoid fantasies that some self-appointed “futurists” like to warn us about. Just as Richards committed vast troves of words to memory in order to master

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