Will Robots Rule Your World?

By: | March 21st, 2014

Humans are good at manipulating symbolic expressions like words, images and sounds related to objects and people in our environment. Over time, we have built up knowledge about the structure and function of the world and developed beliefs and goals that drive human action. But our capabilities were “created” and evolved in a human-sized world.

Today’s vastly larger and more complex society has left us unable to process the world around us using our innate faculties; we need smart machines, it seems, to help us in our struggle to survive. The difference between humans and artificial intelligence comes from a computer’s superior ability to analyze long series and large amounts of data. For example, Watson is capable of processing 500 gigabytes of data per second or the equivalent of 1 million books.

Forecasting Large Scale Natural Phenomena

The world seems to be faced with the large number of hugely complex problems that require the analysis of large data sets and so artificial intelligence is the only way forward. For example, in a recent paper in the Journal of Hydrology, researchers discussed the development of hydrological forecasting models using data from past records.

The purpose is to more effectively manage hydropower reservoir resources. Artificial intelligence “reads” data and creates “auto regressive moving-averages (ARMA), artificial neural networks (ANN) and adaptive neural-based fuzzy interference systems (ANFIS) techniques, among others. While most people’s eyes will glaze over when encountering these concepts and terms they are the bread and butter of scientists and engineers charged with the task of creating accurate long-term predictions about the use of resources such as water. This comes in handy in areas including environmental protection, drought prediction and management, the operation of utility companies, hydropower generation and devising ways of sustainably developing resources.

Getting the Vast Power of Supercomputers/AI to Smartphones

With the power of artificial intelligence and supercomputers to do things humans can’t, there has to be a way for us to work with these machines to improve life. In fact, IBM is now promoting this idea to developers and asking them to help bring the brainpower of Watson to smartphones.

This seems like a good development and a reasonable trade-off in giving up some of our human autonomy for the incredible power artificial intelligence provides. In fact, IndustryTap reported on entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s quest to bring supercomputing to physicians.

Are Robots an Existential Risk?

Humans suffer enough from bosses and others in power who take advantage of their positions and make life difficult but what are the dangers of smart computers acting the same way? Scientists, philosophers and engineers at the Center for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) at the University of Cambridge in the UK  are studying whether or not smart machines will one day leave humanity in the dust forever. Machines that exceed humans in intelligence, CSER believes, would have the ability to create their own computer programs, technologies and AI.

With computers in labs from MIT to Tokyo constantly progressing in performing complex tasks that include strategy, the idea that “humanity today is like a walking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world,” is something to ponder.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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