SURVIVING PLANET EARTH
Part B: Artificial Intelligence
This is the second of a two-part article on the development of technology as a quest to underwrite the survival of mankind.
Previously we looked at planet Mars as an option for a colony of humans, coming to the conclusion that the amount of time, effort and money required would be better spent right here on planet Earth.
To guarantee our survival – in some way, shape or form – we are probably best working to develop and regulate Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a superior form of life.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
AI is generally intelligent behaviour by machines, rather than the natural intelligence of humans and other animals. The scope of AI includes reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, natural language processing and the ability to move and manipulate objects.
The underlying question is can humans make non-human, intelligent life and if so, what are the implications? Where are we headed with this?
AI Type 1: Purely Reactive
This is the most basic form of AI. It perceives its environment or situation directly and simply acts on what it sees. It has no concept of the wider world and specialises only in one area. An example is IBM’s Deep Blue which beat the great Garry Kasparov at chess.
AI Type II: Limited Memory
This form of AI considers pieces of past information and adds them to its programmed representations of the world. It has just enough memory or experience to make proper decisions and execute appropriate actions. An example is self-driving vehicles.
AI Type III: Theory of Mind
The capacity to understand thoughts and emotions which affect human behaviour. This type, which can comprehend feelings, motives, intentions and expectations, and can interact socially – has yet to be built, but would likely be the next class of intelligent machines. Examples abound in sci-fi movies such as Star Wars (C-3PO and R2-D2).
AI Type IV: Self-Aware
These ultimate types of AI can form representations about themselves. They are aware of their internal states, can predict the feelings of others, and can make abstractions and inferences. They are the future generation of machines: super intelligent, sentient and conscious.
Putin it into perspective
In September this year, Russian president Vladimir Putin made the startling claim that in the future, the country that leads in artificial intelligence (AI) could dominate the world.
According to a report by Russian state-funded news organisation RT, Putin told students that “artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all of humankind.”
Currently, AI is being used by companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple to power some of their cutting-edge software and services. But technological advancements in the military field means that AI-powered weapons might be the next step in the evolution of warfare.
The Russian President believes that drones will be at the forefront of the battlefields in the future.
“When one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another,” he said, “it will have no other choice but to surrender.”
It would also be a fair assumption that whoever manages to hack in to the other nation’s systems will also hold the upper hand.
There are other inherent dangers in the unregulated development of Artificial Intelligence.
According to the famous theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking the creation of thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.
He told BBC: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said.
“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”
In the short term, there are concerns that clever machines capable of undertaking tasks done by humans until now will swiftly destroy millions of jobs.
This is where it gets weird
Humans have an interesting habit of humanising things. Through the centuries we have humanised God. The Ancient Greeks personified and humanised nature through their deities. We even humanise our pets.
Humanising helps us relate to and understand the world around us. However when we humanise things there comes moral responsibility.
Already there is a field of machine ethics called “robot rights” which, not unlike animal rights and human rights, will set moral parameters for human interaction with machines (and vice versa).
Yet, it may be too little too late.
For instance, did you know…
A humanoid robot named Sophia recently attended a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Sophia answered a question posed by UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed about what the organization could do to help people without access to the Internet or electricity.
“If we are smarter and focused on win-win type of results, AI could help proficiently distribute the world’s existing resources like food and energy,” said Sophia.
Meanwhile an un-related sex robot called Samantha has been invented and now sells in 15 different versions for around US$4,000 each.
Spanish scientist and inventor of the sex doll Sergi Santos believes that it’s only a matter of time before human and robot marriage is commonplace.
Speaking from his home laboratory in Barcelona, he said: “people might think it is weird but before they know it, these robots will be doing their jobs, and marrying their children, their grandchildren, and their friends.”
“They need to remember that just a few years ago mobile phones were seen as a non-essential item in society but now we can’t function without them.”
Interested in talking to Cleverbot? It’s a chatterbot web application that uses AI to have conversations with humans. Since launching on the internet, Cleverbot has had over 200 million conversations. It is now available as an iOS, Android and Windows Phone app.
Cleverbot’s responses are not pre-programmed. Instead it learns from human input.
In 2011 Cleverbot participated in a formal Turing test and was judged to be 59.3% human, compared to the rating of 63.3% achieved by human participants. Online, Cleverbot is talking to around 80,000 people at once.
Join the conversation: www.cleverbot.com