25 October 2016
Relying on technology
Artificial Intelligence(AI) is intelligence performed by machines. These
machines are able to perceive their environment and act upon that environment, which maximizes an AI’s chances to succeed at a certain goal. Informal, “artificial intelligence” refers to a machine that has similar cognitive functions with human minds, such as learning or problem solving. The computer scientist Alan Turing came up in 1950 with the idea that a machine can be taught like a child. In 1995, John McCarthy, the developer of the program language LISP, invented the term “artificial intelligence”. Later on, in 1960s and 1970s, AI researchers increased significantly the use of computers for image recognition and languages translations, and so the fact that computers could eventually evolve abilities such as speaking and thinking was something that everyone expected long time ago (Ford). Today, intelligent machines moved from research laboratories to everyone’s house, as we now have virtual personal assistants like Siri, Cortana,
IBM Watson, self-driving cars, and the growth of machine learning and foretelling systems that warrant a new level of artificial intelligence (Hammond).
Science fiction has always inspired people. It is a field where imagination
has no limits and creative minds provide not only a glance to the future, but also discover the present in more depth. There is no doubt that Science fiction has influenced and inspired technology over the years. Paul Hsieh, a physician with long-standing interests in free-market economics, points out technologies from the T.V. series Star Trek that developed from fiction to science facts. Such an example that influenced artificial intelligence is the Android. Star Trek: The Next Generation’s special attraction: the character of Data was an android(,) Starfleet officer. For instance, in the episode “The Measure of a Man”, the main issue was whether Data should be considered an “it” or a “he”. Despite the fact that there has been a lot of controversy whether robots are fully humanized or not, Hsieh states that “Contemporary robots and ‘artificial intelligence’ technologies are closing the gap with Star Trek” (Hsieh). Another aspect from the same T.V. series is exemplified by Nathan Taylor, science, tech and economics blogger. In the episode “The Conscience of the King”, Captain Kirk asks the computer for information. He emphasized the resemblance between this and how we use today our devices: “What’s surprising is how close this computer-voice interaction
is to how it works today, nearly 50 years later, with Apple Siri or Google Now” (Tylor). Daniel Lorenčík, from the department of Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence of the Technical University of Kosice, stated in a research paper how the idea of more natural control was stimulated from science fiction: “Beside natural interface, there are attempts to create a more natural control of phones,
computers, and machines in general. One of them is Google Glass project which allows human to access content based on the context or by the use of natural speech commands. Much of the ideas used in this or similar projects have roots in the sci-fi films like Star Trek where voice interaction is shifting towards more natural and instinctive control. This can be seen in the new version of operating systems for computers, smart phones, and tablets” (Lorenčík). Our society is changing because of Internet, computers, smart phones, and even robots. The everyday life has definitely been shifted by advances in technology and fiction inspired a lot of these changes. The first representation of the tablet was in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. Some inventions from Star Trek are routinely used in field of communication, such as mobile phones and teleconference systems. What is interesting is that there seems to be a “dependence” between science fiction and technology. The children and teenagers who watched these the movies at that time are now well respected
researchers that are able to produce in real life the inventions mentioned in sci-fi. The new inventions also represent an inspiration for artists, and so they can create something else (Lorenčík). D. Lorenčík concludes his paper by saying that “It seems that the fields of robotics and AI will not be different, and many of the concepts from the films mentioned are already in use today, and in much greater scale. But the main contribution of sci-fi movies for Artificial Intelligence and robotics is that they provide inspiration. Inspiration for what could be done, and
also to bring more interested people to the field of robotics and AI” (Lorenčík). Bart Selman, a computer scientist at Cornell University, shares in a response for Tech Insider the same idea that we are not far from seeing in real life robots that we see in science fiction movies: “Today\'s robot are not quite there yet. But we\'re not that far off from creating robots that look and behave similar to Chappie. If you look at some of the robots that they\'ve developed for DARPA like the robot dog at MIT, robots that carry equipment and things like that. Their robots are starting to look more like things we might actually build. Chappie didn\'t look that far removed from what\'s feasible” (Del Prado). In the future, we might be able to see, have, or use more robots and other artificial intelligence objects that we see in films because fiction will always be a source of inspiration for scientists.
Many people speculate that artificial intelligence is going to replace a lot of
jobs. The potential of robots, or more specifically, AI, to operate tasks once designed only for humans increased over the last years and employers have all reasons to consider them. James Duez from Rainbird, award winning Artificial Intelligence platform for business operations, classifies the benefits of AI in a business in three categories: Process, Product, and Analysis. “AI can certainly transform processes, for example delivering an enhanced customer experience for less cost. While everyone naturally focuses on the potential of this technology to cut jobs, what it is actually good at is taking on the rote, repetitive tasks – leaving human workers to do the things that technology is a long way from doing
– like listening to customers and building rapport. AI can certainly learn about customers in order to serve them better, but frankly works best when augmenting a human worker” (Duez). When it comes to the products, J. Duez says: “AI is enabling the creation of entirely new types of product that could not have been possible previously. In fact, we have been doing this for years, even if we may not recognize those innovations as AI any more” (Duez). For example, about 25 years ago, the idea of a computer being able to navigate a vehicle around the city was hard to arise, but today DoD (The U.S. Department of Defense) has surpassed all expectations, presenting their revolutionary Global Positioning System, (GPS). Analysis is another significant factor that proves why we should
use AI: “AI, specifically Machine Learning, is capable of seeing patterns in data that are not visible to humans. Typical use cases include looking at banking data to predict your next purchase, or helping to spot fraud” (Duez). John Frank Weaver, an attorney with the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, where part of his practice centers on emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, and autonomous devices, presents in his book, Robots are people too, the AI influence on different industries: “AI construction workers may reduce the cost of new homes, commercial buildings, and renovations by reducing or eliminating the salaries associated with those projects”; “AI vehicles may create more usable time for people with long work commutes, as they will be able to work, text, sleep, or read during their commutes instead of driving” (Weaver). In the medical field, “AI may lower the cost of surgeries by reducing the number of high paid medical staff” (Weaver) and “AI pharmacists may permit human pharmacists to interact with patients more, improving the standard of care and patient satisfaction” (Weaver) Erik Sofge, a technology, science and culture writer, gives a more detailed result of introducing robots into medicine: “The Da Vinci system, which first reached hospitals 14 years ago, has become the most common surgical robot on the planet, with almost 2500 units worldwide performing over 200000 procedures per
year. The benefits of robot surgery come from the ability to synthesize human intelligence with machine-assisted precision. There is less violence done to the patient, which not only turns potentially massive scars into minor ones, but can also reduce the rate of complications and recovery time” (Sofge). In the future, George Zarkadakis, writer, science communicator, AI architect and digital transformation professional, declares that “Artificial Intelligence computers will be able to accelerate technological innovation in all other areas as well, including renewable energy, food, security, environmental conservation and space exploration” (Zarkadakis).
As technology advances and computer science provides more and more
progressive programing, AI machines may as well become one of the most advanced “lifeform” on earth, therefore representing a social concern for most of the people. However, new findings imply a different situation. Carlos Gershenson, Mexican researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de
México, gives a simple explanation along with an example of why people should not worry about this issue: “Probably it is the case that we are making an unfair judgement while trying to compare computers with people. Suppose we would like to compare who’s better: a goose or a pig. Well, better for what? To eat? To be eaten? To fly? To run? To swim? Even these questions are quite relative. Now
our comparison of computers with humans is turning from unfair to silly. Which one is ‘better’, a computer or a person? Well, for what? Computers are good at some things, not at others, and the same about us. Then why would pigs try to “take over” geese, or vice versa? The question sounds crazy. Of course, it is not the same with computers and us. In this case it sounds completely insane, since we benefit from each other. Well, plainly computers would not exist without us. On the other hand, they help us tremendously, and their consequence has been described without exaggeration as the “Information Revolution”. Computers and humans are better in different things, and these things are complementary” (Gershenson). In an interview for The Spectator, Professor Nick Jennings, vice-provost of research at Imperial College London, also assures people by saying: “It’s about making machines do smart things. There’s been a lot in the press recently about AI-taking over humanity and wiping us all out. That’s the kind of thing we see in the films. My take on AI is not that. I see AI very much as complementary to human expertise and endeavor — working with smarter machines which are able to shoulder the load and engage with us in a more
useful way; in systems where lots of different humans and lots of different smart machines come together to do their stuff, then disband again. I call those human-agent collectives” (Freeman). Ralf Herbrich, Amazon’s Berlin-based head
of machine learning, also stated for Financial Times that computers are not able to take over: “No. A computer is a tool and only humans can build computers.
People write programs. A computer can’t write a program. There will be no self-propelling computer” (Margolis).
Artificial intelligence’s impact on humans and on our future is still a highly
debated issue, but the outcome of forthcoming advances in technology will definitely affect human lives, in what way and to what extent we will, eventually, see.
Del Prado, Guia Marie. “The best fiction, as picked by 20 A.I. experts.”
Tech Insider, Business Insider, 4 December 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/best-robots-science-fiction-ai-experts-say-2015-11/#some-researchers-enjoyed-philosophical-discussions-about-ai-in-science-fiction-carlos-guestrin-says-ex-machina-does-it-with-more-nuance-than-other-movies-1
Duez, James. “The Benefits of AI for Business.” Blog, Rainbird, 6 June
Ford, Paul. “Our Fear of Artificial Intelligence.” Computing,
Technologyreview.com, 11 February 2015, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/534871/our-fear-of-artificial-intelligence/
Freeman, Laura. “Robots will not take over the world.” Emerging
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Hsieh, Paul. “8 Star Trek Technologies Moving From Science Fiction To
Science Fact.” Opinion, Forbes, 24 June 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulhsieh/2014/06/24/8-star-trek-technologies/#28ca780169d
Lorenčík, Daniel. Tarhanicova, Martina. Sincak, Peter. “Influence of Sci-Fi Films
on Artificial Intelligence and Vice-Versa.” Center for Intelligent Technologies, Department of Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence,
Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, Technical University of Kosice, Slovakia.
Margolis, Jonathan. “Why robots will not take over the world (just a hunch).”
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Financial Times, 29 May 2016, https://www.ft.com/content/5fe8e210-258f-11e6-8b18-91555f2f4fde
Sofge, Erik. “The Robotic Doctor is In.” Science, Popular Mechanics, 12 March
Taylor, Nathan. “Understanding AI risk. How Star Trek got talking
computers right in 1966, while Her got it wrong in 2013.” AI and Neuroscience, Praxtime, 27 May 2015, https://praxtime.com/2015/05/27/why-samantha-is-so-dangerous/
Weaver, John Frank. “Robots Are People Too: How Siri, Google Car, and
Artificial Intelligence Will Force Us to Change Our Laws.” Must a Robot Obey Orders from a Human Being?, 2014, pp. 48-49.
Zarkadakis, George. “In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and
Future of Artificial Intelligence.” Machines That Think, 2015, pp. 267.
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