Future · Science · Technology

The Rise of the Machine


The Rise of Artificial

Artificial Intelligence alongside humans is,

needles to say, beneficial.

Early morning we are awoken by an alarm clock, most probably on our phones. We hurry up, and move our body into a standing position. We bow towards where the mobile phone is, and we check for any new emails. When the time comes we leave our homes and head for the office, or schools. Once arrived at our destination, we walk towards our working place. We sit on the chair, we pull out the phone from our pockets, and have it lay on the desk. Then we power up the computer, and we begin our work. Sooner or later the phone rings or vibrates. If the one at fault is a message, then we take a look at it, read it, and maybe glimpse a smile. It doesn’t matter what it says. It has been sent to you from at least one kilometre away, and it had travelled all that way to us through air, only to show up on a 4 inch screen. You may have thought once of how this system works, then you may have wondered what happens to all the information you typed during that day of work, where it goes and who reads it. The answer to these questions can be put in the following two words: Artificial Intelligence. The presence of A.I.(Artificial Intelligence), and robots, alongside humans is, and will be beneficial by creating new jobs, helping humans by all available means, and by providing alternate companionship.

The word “computer” was first recorded as being used in 1613, and was originally used to describe a human who performed calculations or computations. The definition hadn’t changed until the late 19th century, when Charles Babbage purposed and began developing the Difference Engine. Is is considered to be the first automatic computing engine that was capable of computing several sets of numbers and making hard copies of the results. After finishing the Difference Engine, Charles started working on The Analytical Engine in 1837. The computer contained an Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), basic flow control, and integrated memory. Upon finalisation it was supposed to fit our general concept of a computer, but since he had died before he could see his dream come true, the project had not been successful. A century later, in 1936, The Turing Machine is proposed by Alan Turing and soon after it becomes the foundation for theories about computing and computers. The machine printed symbols on paper, in a manner that emulated a person following a series of logical instructions. The Turing Machine has had a huge impact on the computer industry. In the December of 1943, The Colossus was built, which is the first electric programmable computer, to be followed by the British computer known as EDSAC, built in 1949. EDSAC performed its first calculation on May 6, and it was the computer that ran the first graphical computer game, nicknamed “Baby.” In only 35 years from then, the first portable computer was invented (weighting about 55 pounds), IBM 5100. It had a five inch CRT display, tape drive, 1.9MHz processor (Today’s average processor has 2.0GHz), and 64 KB of RAM (“When was the first computer invented” 2-20)

The implantation of Artificial Intelligence is what was always desired though, and not only the invention of a machine which is able to calculate. Roughly speaking, Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., is the study of man-made computational devices and systems which can be made to act in a manner which we would be inclined to call intelligent. Turing argued that if a machine could pass a certain test (which has become known as the “Turing Test”) then we would have grounds to say that the computer was intelligent (Berkeley 2). Herbert Dreyfus and John Searle have both critiqued the concept of Artificial Intelligence, and sustained that AI is doomed to failure (Berkeley 15).

The two may have been right, but only for a short period of time.Cleverbot is a robot in which an A.I. system has been implemented. The robot that has been working really hard since the beginning of 2011, in order to achieve more information on how people interact with each other. People are able to talk to him directly over the internet, and the robot talks back. It is learning at a slow pace, but it is learning. As a result, the robot scored a total of 59.3% human in the Turing Test, while humans scored 63.3%. In Daniel Crevier’s book “AI”, Herbert Simon said:

“It is not my aim to surprise or shock you – but the simplest way I can summarise is to say that there are now in the world machines that can think, that can learn, and that can create. Moreover, their ability to do those things is increasing rapidly until – in a visible future – the range of problems they can handle will be coextensive with the range to which the human mind has been applied.”

It is indeed Daniel who has the facts on his side. His presumption, that robots will, in the future, become equal to humans in thought and creative power, can be considered as not being wrong at all.

Nowadays robots provide accuracy over repetitive tasks, and they needn’t have any brakes. They can work in hostile conditions, and, furthermore, they can make precise measurements and complex calculations at a much faster rated than a human being. The Da Vinci system is a surgical robot that eliminates hand tremors of surgeons during long periods of surgery. It also, if needed, does heart operations making only three small incisions in the chest in such a way that enables patients to recover rapidly (Anonymous, “Rise of Machine,” 20). In NASA’s NEEMO7 project, a robotic surgical system called Zeus recently aided a non-surgical team in the removal of a gall bladder. With the assistance of robots and computerized intelligence, we already can do things we never imagined doing 150 years ago. We can remove a tumour in our gut through our navel, make a talking-picture video of our wedding, drive a cart on Mars, print a pattern of fabric that a friend mailed us through air, and the least but not last print three-dimensional shapes with a 3D printer (Rawell 12).

The rate at which such capable robots, and artificial intelligence systems are built has increased significantly since the beginning of the 21st century, and with ease they seem to be conquering most of the domains in which repetitive or dangerous tasks need to be done. The appearance of autonomous robots is starting to scare people as many of them may lose their jobs due to the replacement of humans with robots. Important figures argued that it might be true that robots will take our present jobs in the near future, however:

“In a real way our inventions assign us our jobs. Each successful bit of automation generates new occupations – occupations we would not have fantasized about without the prompting of the automation”(Anonymous, Robots are taking our jobs, 3).

There is nothing to stop the migration of robots into white-collar work, and instead of opposing this idea we should embrace it. We already have artificial intelligence in many of our machines; we just don’t call it that. It is a safe bet that the highest-earning professions in the year 2050 will depend on automations and machines that have not been invented yet. That is we can’t see future jobs from the place we stand now, because we can’t see the inventions, or machines, that will make them possible. Industrialization did more than just extend the average human lifespan. It led a greater percentage of the population to decide that humans were meant to be full-time musicians, mathematicians, athletes, fashion designers, yoga masters, fan-fiction authors, and folks with one-of-a kind titles on their business cards.

“This is not a race against the machines. If we race against them, we lose. This is a race with the machines” (Kelly 4-26).

Leaving behind the parts where robots take our jobs, or initiate a world domination program, we discover that there are side stories as well, with more pacifistic and enjoyable endings. Back in 1999, Quake 3, a first-person shooter game was launched. The game came with the innovations that the bot AI could learn and adapt to new scenarios and situations, based on tactics that worked and didn’t work. Those tactics were developed throughout the game by the AI robot, as it watched the you playing the game. Basically, the trick was that the longer you played, the more the AI would learn about you. If these things were happening 15 years ago, what is it that happens nowadays? The artist Harold Cohen has been working on his on AI system since the 1970s. The piece of software he had developed is called AARON, and, in essence, what this piece of software does is showing creativity (Gralleman 1-18).

The robotics industry has gone even further and started developing A.I. systems capable of acting as living companions, mimicking animal pets. Researches who study the relationship between robots and humans are discovering that some models make better companions than pets.

“People spoke to the robot more than the dog and touched the robot more than the dog,”

said Elizabeth Broadbent, a senior lecturer in psychological medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Broadbent watched 40 elderly adults interact with Paro, a robots seal, over 12 weeks. What she found was that they became less lonely.

“They enjoy petting the robot and cuddling with the robot.” The robot also asks them various questions like “How are you today?” or “Are you hungry?”

Beyond that Paro stimulated social behaviour in general: People tended to speak to each other more when the robot was in the room (Subbaraman 3-7).

Yet another AI system, the prototype MOBISERV, a personalized robot companion for elderly people, currently costs around EUR 10,000 to build. It was designed to assist older people with tasks they can no longer do by themselves, and offer companionship. The autonomous A.I, by observing the user’s behaviour, can learn to approach users at appropriate times, talk to them whenever they seem lonely, and provide information whenever asked (“A personalized robot companion for older people” 13-20).

There is a dark side to A.I. as well, and this may rise counterarguments against the fact that robots are useful to us, and help us evolve to the next level. By way of example, one field that is using A.I. extensively is the military. New forms of killing machines are being created to displace soldiers in situations where the risk is too high. These weapons will actually be predatory, designed to hunt human beings and destroy them. However, recently, during a congress between the member countries of the United Nations it has been decided that robots will not be allowed to decide whether it can kill a human or not. Furthermore, it is possible that in the near future, when the A.I. system actually reach a more advanced state, robots may override human judgemental errors and do the most logic thing that is to be done.

We are assured however that nothing like humans being replaced by robots could ever happen, because from the start we know that:

“humans and computers perceive the world through different languages. What is concrete for one, is abstract for another” (Anonymous).

More over, there are nearly 8 billion people on Earth, who already know how to produce successors, so what’s the point in creating machines that will think the same way humans do?

“We have preconceptions about how an intelligent robot should look and act, and these can blind us to what is already happening around us” (Kelly 5).

“In reality it looks like robots are here to stay. So are they bad or good? Despite the many films and books depicting robots as our sworn enemies and our successors in the evolutionary chain of life, so far there is little evidence that robots are really a threat to mankind. They are no where near achieving consciousness (not to be misunderstood with intelligence) never mind gaining a desire to rule the world. On other hand we already live in a society that is dependant on machines with all their benefits as well as their costs. Robots can be an aid to our society because of the many tasks that they can carry out that we may not be able, or wish to do” (“Rise of Machine” 33).

The presence of computers, robots, and artificial intelligence alongside humans is, needless to say, beneficial. Up to the present moment robots have created jobs that we would have never dreamed of two centuries ago, boosting our economy and our life expectancy by at least 20 years. Their intellectual power has grown so much since then that we have started to ask ourselves questions like: “Do robots have souls?” or “Do they think?” With time, the robots once thought to be slaves of human kind are becoming good friends to us, offering alternate companionship. What could we want more than a higher life expectancy, a higher economy, and Artificial Intelligence systems which besides doing endless repetitive tasks, are our friends.

Work Cited

“When was the first computer invented?.” Computer Hope. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014 <http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000984.htm&gt;.

Berkely, Istvan S. “What is artificial Intelligence?.” Louisiana Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~isb9112/dept/phil341/wisai/WhatisAI.html&gt;.

Rowell, Laurie. “Shaking Hands with a Robot.” Inform IT. N.p., 11 Feb. 2005. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=367634&gt;.

“Robots are taking our jobs.” Boing Boing. Ed. Cory Doctorow. N.p., 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <http://boingboing.net/2013/01/01/robots-are-taking-your-job-and.html&gt;.

Grolleman, Jaap. “We’re building our successors.” Medium. N.p., 17 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. <https://medium.com/on-management/3211375df144&gt;.

Subbaraman, Nidhi. “My Robot Friend.” NBC News. N.p., June. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. <http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/my-robot-friend-people-find-real-comfort-artificial-companionship-6C10146787&gt;.

European Commission, CORDIS. “A personalized robot companion for older people.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130816125631.htm>.

Kelly, Kevin. “Better than Human.” Wired. N.p., 24 Dec. 2012. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. <http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/12/ff-robots-will-take-our-jobs/all/&gt;.

Mohammad, Sohaib, Ismael Anoba, Henry Nganga, Lawrence Nunoo, and Beverley Osazemwinde. “The rise of the machine.” Computer Science for Fun. Queen Mary, University of London, n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. <http://www.cs4fn.org/alife/robot/riserobots.php&gt;.

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