Artificial Intelligence

9 06 2008

Yesterday I heard someone say that a company in the US is working on a new generation of artificial intelligence which doesn’t actually have any pre-programmed instructions for movement. Instead, it has the capability to learn how to move for different environments. That way, when it finds something new, for example stairs, it will “evolve” the ability to climb stairs. Or if it comes to a rock, it will learn how to move around it.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this scares me. I mean, it’s also really cool that we can actually do stuff like that, but it’s scary at the same time. It conjures up images of The Matrix or any number of sci-fi movies where the machines rise up and destroy all humanity.

It all comes down to humanity developing technologies faster than we can control them properly. The threat to mankind’s extinction may not be anything external, but ourselves. I know that is really cliché, but think about it. If scientists release a swarm of nanobots which have been programmed to self replicate, but something goes wrong and they just consume everything on the world, there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Even the nuclear bomb is out of control: if somebody launches a nuclear warhead, chances are that we are all screwed, due to the policies of mutually assured destruction and second strike. Basically what those policies say is that if a country is attacked by a nuclear weapon, they will respond with greater force on the original attacker, thus ensuring mutual destruction of both countries.

But anyway, to get back to the A.I., the US military is apparently really interested in developing this technology so that they can build robot soldiers to fight wars. And I can see the attraction there: saving lives being the primary attraction. But just think about how creepy it would be. A robot, (I imagine it looking like a spider, with legs) is created and it is helpless, unable to move, just like a normal human baby. As times goes by, however, it learns to move its legs and eventually coordinates itself enough to move. Slowly at first, but eventually fast enough to get around. But then it falls into a hole, for example. Again, it slowly learns how to pick itself up and get free. Etcetera until this thing is unstoppable. It freaks me out a little bit.

Of course, there are surely practical uses for such robots, such as in bomb disposal, housework (robot vacuums) and even, eventually, almost human robots which can do everything humans can: walk, carry objects, shoot guns, nurse the sick, climb stairs etc.

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5 responses

9 06 2008
kellyansara

Yeah I know its scary… its all like a scene from I ROBOT holy cow…

9 06 2008
Brian knott

This is amazing? Awesome! And dont be worried. Steel cannot learn by itself. Some learning program must exist. In this case i would probably guess its a physics program. Instructing it to the laws of physics and what to do when certain laws are met. It can

9 06 2008
Brian knott

Never have a mind of its own as it always follows simple instructions given to it using logic gates and basic electronics. Thats all. But its great we have found a way for it to basically learn using rules.

10 06 2008
joe

Just give them a machine gun, and let the oil flow from Irak to here free of charge

12 06 2008
Elly

Well, I muse about these things also and I find that no matter what black holes technology seems to be opening up they’re actually not as powerful as they might seem. The very fact that humanity created these things means that we have power over them. The latest sci-fi movie may lead us to think otherwise but those just reflect society’s misconceptions and the fear of the things they do not understand.

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