The world has seen much advancement in technology over the years, some inventions have come and gone but none have caught and kept our attention or fascination quite like robotics, more precisely the integration of Artificial intelligence into robotics.
Artificial Intelligence is described as “the capability of a computer program to perform tasks or reasoning processes” similar to that of a human. The theory that machines could be intelligent began with mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing in the 1950’s and continues to be debated to this day.
Several companies have delved into this field with interesting discoveries.
2017 saw Facebook’s Chatbot program experiment wildly reported to be a doomsday prediction come true. The AI system was observed to have created its own language to make communication more efficient. Most would find that worrying, a case of AI going conscious and going beyond its programmed parameters. In another instance, Google improved its Translate service by adding a neural network to help translate languages more efficiently. The AI wrote its own language specifically for that task.
The arguments for and against advanced robotics are plentiful with the likes of tech leaders and scientists like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg weighing in on the subject.
If you’re worried about a Terminator movie like scenario happening where machines eventually rise up and decide to take over the world, fret not, for now anyway. Human – robot relations are still being worked on. A team of researchers from the University of Hertfordshire is making use of what they call “Empowerment” ethical programming, their answer to Sci-Fi writer Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics”. An article carried by
‘curiosity.com’ explains the programming.
“Instead of having some actions prescribed and others forbidden, these A.I.s are made to value empowerment: The ability to make choices. The decisions they make are those that allow them to make more choices, and they value that same empowerment in others. Basically, they won’t kill you, because if they kill you, your options would be severely limited.”
Max Tegmark, President of the future of life institute is quoted on their website as saying “everything we love about civilization is a product of intelligence, so amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before – as long as we manage to keep the technology beneficial.”
The site also has a chart to help clear up myths making the rounds about the rise of AI in robotics, reproduced here in no particular order.
Myth number one is – AI turning evil, turning conscious.
The actual worry is AI turning competent, with misaligned goals to ours.
Myth number two – Robots are the main concern
Fact – misaligned intelligence is the main concern, it needs no body, only an Internet connection.
Myth number 3 – AI can’t control humans
Fact intelligence enables control; we control tigers by being smarter.
Worry number 3 – Super intelligence is just years away, panic station
Ethical arguments abound on how to make it safer for everyone, the fact is making it safe may actually be decades away, so we can sit tight until then.
Myth number four – Super intelligence by 2100 is inevitable, Super intelligence by 2100 is impossible
Fact – it may happen in decades, centuries or never: AI experts disagree and we just don’t know
Myth number five – Only Luddites worry about AI
Fact – Many top researchers are concerned
Myth number six – Machines can’t have goals
Fact – A heat-seeking missile has a goal
For now the use of robotics remains largely limited to business and manufacturing, where automation is seen as a big benefit. It has helped firms improve on productivity and security and control. Online shopping giants Amazon and Ocado have been making use of automated warehouse assistants for years to reduce reliance on humans to fill out client orders. Ocado tried out a humanoid robot in its warehouses earlier this year to predict human technician’s needs and hand over tools using Artificial Intelligence.
In Analyst Firm Gartner “Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2015 and Beyond: Digital Business is Driving Big Change” report, Three main predictions are made regarding the business implication of AI. These being:
Machines are taking on a more active role in enhancing human endeavours;
Digitalized things are making assisted economic decisions, and finally
Renovating the customer experience is a digital priority.
In the world of medicine, AI and robotics can help doctors analyse complex patient data to help create better treatment options for patients. The most notable so far has been the Da Vinci system, a system that assists urologists in removing the prostates of patients with prostate cancer. Various other tools have been made to assist the healthcare sector in those repetitive tasks to help reduce physician induced repetitive motion disorders.
The launch of Sophia, the world’s first hyper intelligent robot made by Hanson Robotics set worldwide media abuzz in 2015. The robot was built with the ability to engage in somewhat complex dialogue and perform more than 62 human facial expressions. What enables her to “see” are a set of cameras in her eyes and Google speech recognition software her allows her to speak. Sophia runs on freeware, which allows anyone to make their own lifelike robot. In 2017 Sophia was granted citizenship by the Saudi Arabian government. She also got the chance to attend a UN conference as a United Nations Development Programmes Innovation Champion. Going forward, we can only wait and see where the research into this fascinating field will take us, who knows maybe one day cyborgs will actually exist.