“Open the pod bay doors, HAL”.
For many of us this scene from Stanley’s Kubrick’s film 2001 A Space Odyssey, was our first introduction to the thought of AI, or artificial intelligence. HAL, was the computer on board the space ship that monitored and controlled everything, and had the ability to think for itself.
On a much smaller scale, some of our new “smart” mobile phones have something similar built into them. Microsoft’s Cortina, is a digital personal assistant that you can speak with and have aid you in planning and scheduling your life. Hopefully Cortina would open the pod bay doors.
The history of AI isn’t a long one, around 60-70 years, but the advances in recent years has been huge. Technology coupled with studies of the human brain have aided in making AI a reality, and a reality we can use everyday. As in our mobile phone personal assistant example.
Recently Professor Stephen Hawking said that AI could bring about the end of mankind. Hawking stated, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Makes you wonder if we would create a bunch of HALS walking around like terminators.
Let’s look at some of the ways artificial intelligence has and is being used.
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We have developed computers such as Deep Blue and TOPIO, that can learn from their mistakes, and we can play games against, such as chess. However, while AI in a sense, they do not fully think for themselves or are self-aware.
Speech recognition is an area where AI has made some great strides. Between Microsoft’s Cortina and Apple’s Siri, they not only recognise your voice and commands, but can also on a small scale have a conversation with you. When they start telling you what to do, and not you telling them, we may want to revisit Professor Hawking’s theory.
This is an area of AI where start to look at robots and robotic machines. Machines such as ASIMO can not only walk and climb stairs, it can also recognise its environment and act accordingly.
These machines combine the areas of communication and planning and learning with movement.
Things like hearing aids and glasses, have been around for years to assist us in seeing and hearing. However, by using AI, you create not just something to aid in seeing or hearing, or the sense of smell or touch, you are actually creating that organ or body part.
It would be nice to think as this technology progresses, they can create hearts, livers, and lungs. We really could live forever and be the Six Million Dollar Man. We already have “smart” limbs as prosthetics for people, which can help that artificial limb have feeling.
The Future of AI
One aspect of the future of AI is how intelligent will these “machines” become? If they have a capacity to lean more than humans, will they not take over? The idea of a computer or robot becoming “self aware” is scary, and also a reality.
If one is to use Rene’ Descartes philosophy of “I think therefore I am”, we would tend to believe if some form of AI was to become self aware, they would then think of themselves as alive. It could also bring the whole Hollywood’s “Skynet” terminator scenario into reality.
Life imitating art.