October 27, 2017

Enter the Robots…

Filed under: News — csadm @ 2:16 pm


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.

Talking Hawking

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.”

Learn more

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



Comments (0)

October 13, 2017

Surviving Planet Earth

Filed under: News — csadm @ 4:45 am

Part A: Mission to Mars

This is the first of a two-part article on how technology is being developed in a quest to underwrite the survival of mankind.

Here’s the scenario. Humans appear to be trapped on a small blue planet floating in the infinite vastness of space. Each human has an effective use-by date of say 70-80 years. As individuals, our days are numbered. Earth rotates around a small, relatively insignificant star we call the Sun. The Sun itself also has a use-by date. One day the lights will go out.

There is no other intelligent life within cooee of Earth.

Perhaps there is life in another dimension. Perhaps we are just part of a video game.

Spiritual issues aside, we are fighting a losing battle for material survival. To make matters worse we are a combative species by nature, with a proven record of no regard for the Earth on which we live, let alone each other and the other creatures with which we share our small planet.

We are still waging political, ideological and religious wars with little or nothing to show for over 2,000 years of human “progress” – except that our extinction and demise is now within our own hands.

So, to some very powerful and rich individuals and nations, Mars is seen as the next most logical place for humans to exist. However Mars seems more of a human conquest than a quest for survival.

Survivalists would argue that the dinosaurs are now extinct because they didn’t have a back-up plan to ensure their survival. To others Mars is an ego-driven waste of time and money which does nothing to solve the human condition.

Mars as a global challenge

Aeronautic giant Lockheed Martin, a company that probably knows more about the subject matter than anyone else, says that a manned mission to Mars has the best chance of success with global co-operation and funding.

The company recently outlined its latest work in developing a Mars base camp, which will remain in orbit around the red planet and allow its crew of six to travel to and from the surface and even to the two moons of Mars to explore and conduct experiments.

With the combined “skill and will” of global collaboration from both public and private sectors plans for a mission would be faster, potentially making it possible in about 10 years.

Lockheed Martin says at no other time in history has there been both the know-how and the public excitement to get humans to Mars.

Space X

Sharing in the excitement is a company based in California, USA called Space X, headed by tech billionaire Elon Musk.

Only last month, Musk announced plans to colonise Mars by 2024 using a using a new type of rocket that can also travel to any location on earth in less than 60 minutes.

Musk says he’s hoping to make his current space rockets redundant with a new vehicle code named BFR (Big F***ing Rocket).

His big rocket will stand 100 metres tall with 31 engines to lift a payload of more than 4000 tons into space.

The rocket’s interplanetary vehicle will be just 48 metres long and will feature 40 cabins, each capable of carrying three people.

He believes he could send the first two cargo ships to Mars by 2022 with the first two crewed craft touching down just two years later.

He said the BFR would also be able to service the International Space Station as well as establish human colonies on the moon and Mars.

The plan is to use the BFR to transport 100 people at a time to the surface of Mars. The huge Shuttle-like vehicle launches on a reusable booster on Earth and is then able to make propulsive landings on Mars. With multiple launches, Musk envisions creating a Mars city.

The two-section BFR will be about 30 feet wide, 348 feet long, and weigh 4,400 tons at launch — nearly ten times the mass of the International Space Station.

“It’s really quite a big vehicle,” Musk said.

Musk hopes to send two unmanned cargo ships to the Red Planet in 2022 and human passengers just two years later.

Mars comes to Dubai

Here on planet Earth there have been numerous trial tests on how humans would cope with the isolation and challenges of living on Mars.

A NASA-backed research program recently ended which featured a six-member crew living in isolation on a remote Hawaii volcano.

The crew of four men and two women were quarantined on a vast plain below the summit of the world’s largest active volcano in January. All of their communications with the outside world were subjected to a 20-minute delay — the time it takes for signals to get from Mars to the Earth.

The Hawaii team wore specially-designed sensors to gauge their moods and proximity to other people in the small, 1,200 square-foot (111 square meters) dome where they stayed.

The devices monitored, among other things, their voice levels and they could sense if people were avoiding one another. It could also detect if they were next to each other and arguing.

The crew played games designed to measure their compatibility and stress levels. And when they got sick of each other, they could use virtual reality devices to escape to tropical beaches or other familiar landscapes.

Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has unveiled plans to build a billion dollar ‘Martian City’ in the Emirati desert.

Known as the Mars Scientific City, the 1.9-million-square-foot complex will be completely cut off from the outside world allowing scientists and engineers the chance to simulate what like will really be like on Mars.

The largest of its kind, the project will reportedly house researchers for a year allowing them to carry out experiments on growing food, maintaining supplies and psychological living conditions.

The plan is for the entire city to be completely self-sustaining so that it can accurately apply the pressures that astronauts would experience without any outside help.

Mars Scientific City is the first major step in a long journey for the UAE as it heads towards its eventual goal of building a colony on Mars by 2117.

Mars – fast facts

(Source: Canada Space Agency)

If we are going to Mars in an effort to prolong the human race, there remains one fundamental problem. We will still be reliant on a single star from which we derive our energy – the Sun.

When the light goes out, no matter where we are in our solar system, we are doomed. But that’s still 7 or 8 billion years from now.

So why wait around? People are already signed up on a one-way journey to Mars.

If you are interested visit www.mars-one.com


Comments (0)