Advanced technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to permeate all aspects of our lives: medicine, engineering, security, entertainment and education. Robots are already being incorporated into some dangerous work. For example, Packbot helps Police and Armed forces to identify the location of criminals in barricaded buildings or find concealed bombs and mines. Controlled by a human, this robot helps the police enormously with minimal risk for their lives.
Packbot can climb the stairs, flip over and move in any direction
A similar type of robot is represented by Swarm-bot – multi robot systems which consist of mostly simple physical robots1. Opposed to the Packbot which is design to work alone as an individual, Swarm-bots operate as a team, thus being more efficient.
Swarm-bots making a dynamic chain for navigation
An ‘Eel-Lectrifying’ Future for autonomous Underwater Robots; Robots Take Over Inspection of Ballast Tanks on Ships; Magic Tricks Created Using Artificial Intelligence; Cats and Athletes Teach Robots How to Fall; Using 3-D Printers to Print out Self-Learning Robots. Scrolling down the article headlines of online science and high-tech journals one might think that we live in a digitised world surrounded by cyborgs that do all the work for us. Of course this is far from being true or at least so I think.
A non-expensive robot doing all the undesirable work as hoovering, cleaning and ironing would be very much appreciated by many… not least myself.
The breakthrough discoveries in science represent limitless potential of AI. Someday our children might live in a healthier society, where there will be no illnesses; they will come up with anti-aging remedies and learn the secrets of immortality. Our future might look like a science fiction movie where humans are surrounded by robotic devices. We will talk to our furniture, make orders to our kitchen utensils and take care of the robotic pets.
Nowadays AI machines have the intelligence of a cockroach, in the near future scientists will be able to produce machines with the intelligence of mice; the next step for robots will be learn to learn and cumulate knowledge from experience.
The reason why scientists are so eager to create a self-sufficient operated robot is to make the robotic machines replace people at monotonous work places, such as construction. Honda corporation has been working over 27 years in order to produce ASIMO robots for domestic use and elsewhere for practical reasons. The latest version of ASIMO can run, jump, hop on one leg, walk backwards and even conduct the orchestra.
ASIMO opening a bottle and serving a drink
However the very notion of AI sounds scary to many people. The stereotypical portrayal of super human monster has been used immensely in literature (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley; He, She and it by Marge Piercy, Legion of the Damned by William C. Dietz, etc), cinema (The Terminator, American cyborg, RoboCop, Nemesis – to name but a few) and animated TV series (Bionic Sis, The Big O, Krypto the Superdog).
The consequences of uncontrollable clever machine could be disastrous2. What if the created attacks the creator? The mouse become the master? Will AI eventually outsmart humans? These questions remain unanswered, however some scientists and writers are already concerned by the rapid AI development. Thus, James Barrat argues in his new book Artificial Intelligence and The End of Human Era: Our Final Invention3, that super-intelligent machines require a thorough scientific study for better understanding their activity. The key point of the book is that some AI machines are already more intellectually advanced in navigation, data mining, search and theorem proving; therefore if the scientists continue creating them, ultimately these machines might use their intelligence in a different way and take the entire control of the humanity.
Meanwhile most progressive innovators are inclined to change the world of education forever by implementing AI into online courses. When Udacity opened a new course “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, it gained 160,000 students globally4. The reality is that soon the course might be taught by electronic tutors, which on the one hand could be beneficial for students` creativity, curiosity and general background. On the other hand, this education model lacks personal approach, which is only applicable during face-to-face interaction.
An interesting example of how AI may change the life of an ordinary person is described in the movie “Her”. A mere purchase of a talking operating system with AI turned the life of the main character Theodore upside down. The OS could adapt and evolve, taking the attributes of an ideal Self of Theodore and ultimately he falls in love with the OS. We cannot but wonder: Is that going to be our future? Will the AI machines substitute humans or are they just manifestations of our idealistic worlds?
2Hendry, Erica What Happens When Artificial Intelligence Turns On Us? Smithsonian magazine, January 2014. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/what-happens-when-artificial-intelligence-turns-us-180949415/
3Barrat, James Our Final Invention. Artificial Intelligence And The End Of The Human Era, Thomas Dunne Books, 2013
4Vanderbilt, Tom How Artificial Intelligence Can Change Higher Education, Smithsonian magazine, December 2012. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/how-artificial-intelligence-can-change-higher-education-136983766/