Artificial Intelligence: The Good The Bad And The Speculative

What is artificial intelligence – AI?

A simple definition is intelligence demonstrated by machines as compared to that of sentient beings, that is, humans and animals. It could well be argued that machines cannot feel therefore they are not sentient, but they can certainly perform quite complex tasks extremely accurately and they can learn from experience.

The term robots is often used but these are rarely humanoid, although they can be, but are more likely to be industrial machines which can do any range of tasks from assembling cars to performing surgery (such as the bone cutting machine used in knee replacement surgery, quicker and more accurate) or to carrying out simple tasks such as remotely turning on lights and appliances in your home. See our previous blog post on the Internet of Things.

Here is another interesting example, there is a machine/robot being trialled in the USA which flips hamburgers in a fast food outlet. The makers say it is not there to take over jobs from fast food kitchen hands but to make their life easier, however, if a machine is doing your job there is a pretty good chance you will be dismissed. And who can forget the ‘dog’ robot opening a door and letting another robot through. They had no heads, now that’s creepy.

Who is running the development?

Of course it is the current big players such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and individuals such as Elon Musk and Demis Hassabis (who started his career in game design but who has more recently ventured into AI) to name a few. Then there are any number of smaller players developing niche products but these are often bought out by the big guys if they see value in what they are doing.

Even among the developers there is a range of opinions about the good and the evil of AI. It has been reported that Elon Musk is somewhat pessimistic about the human races chances if AI gets too intelligent even to the extent that one of the reasons he wants to colonise Mars is so we will have somewhere to run if the machines take over. But if there is a colony of humans on Mars chances are AI played a big part in getting us there so it would be more than likely AI would be entrenched on the red planet.

Demis Hassabis, however, is more sanguine believing that AI will make our lives so much easier and could in fact be our saviour as the world faces increasing problems we are currently struggling to solve.

What does the future hold

The truth of the matter is that artificial intelligence is already here and whether we know it or not we come into contact with it every single day. What will the future hold? Well that is difficult to say except that the machines will become more and more intelligent and people will become more reliant on them.

We already have wearable technology in watches and rings as well as easily portable devices such as phones with internet connectivity. These have come on in leaps and bounds over recent years so is it too much to surmise we could soon have embedded chips which would lead to neuro connectivity to AI.

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