“Let’s go invent tomorrow… instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.” A very well stated quote by Steve Jobs, the ambassador of innovation for the modern age human. Humans stand tall amongst all species, only for one reason – Intelligence; the power to analyze, calculate and react into situations in order to prepare for the future is an undeniably critical differentiator. And yet, we haven’t been able to figure it out ourselves. Inventors, philosophers and thinkers have spent a huge amount of time and resources on wondnering about intelligence, where it come from, why we were the ones to develop it?. Even more importantly – can we re-create it?
Putting into simpler term, artificial intelligence is the power to solve problems using Reasoning, Knowledge, Learning, Planning, Communication and Ability to physically interact with objects. Humans have always tried to exceed nature at its own game – to create beings that are as intelligent as nature’s creation. Looking at the last century itself, things have changed. Changed is actually quite an understatement. An entire school of thought, a chain of arguments have evolved around the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’.
Popular culture has influenced our understanding of Artificial Intelligence hugely. And not in a good way, necessarily. When we hear the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’, we associate it with the future. Most don’t realize that AI already exists comfortably between us. It is a concept that has existed since decades, and mankind has been developing it in all possible dimensions. Deciding whether this pace of development is good enough, isn’t the question. The question is, is it the way we had predicted it? The answer is, No. The predictions have always sounded gloomy and some of them pretty ludicrous – flying cars, extra intelligent computers, immortal humans, time machines, fully automated homes and what not. And we’re not really there yet.
Since we’re looking into what has been expected out of Artificial Intelligence, it’ll be very irrational to not looking into what have we achieved so far. We’ve started replicating the working of a human brain with projects like Blue Brain by Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Laussane or Google Brain (guess the name of the company developing the brain for extra brownie points!). We’ve developed Deep Blue (by IBM), a chess playing system which defeated the Russian Chess Grandmaster and former World Champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. We’ve developed Virtual Personal Assistants like Google Now by Android, which observe your behavior on the device and hence react accordingly. We’ve developed FreeHall, a self evolving human conversation which imitates a very close human behavior in conversations. We’ve developed Driverless Cars (Google), and we’ve developed buildings that can move in order to suit one’s taste- The Dynamic Tower (Dubai).
The Near Future
I won’t make a deliberate attempt to ‘predict’ the AI future. So far, so many AI predictions have been made, and hardly have they all touched reality. This is certainly because they are made by scientists and techno enthusiasts, and not anthropologists. One simply can’t predict the AI future, as anyone may strike up a new idea and things may change with a domino effect, faster than we had thought. Although, what’s approaching is quite visible and near.
Following are some advancements, AI is developing into:
IoT (Internet of Things): This simply looks like a distant cousin to Artificial Intelligence, but is much more than that. Internet of Things refers to interaction between one’s electronic devices whilst analyzing the usage, and reacting accordingly for better user experience. IoT might be approaching us faster than you can think, as numerous app developers, tech start-ups and giants have already seen the scope in this dimension, and have started developing an entire ecosystem of gadgets.
Delegation of Humane Things: SoftBank unveiled their ‘Peppers’ in June,2014. CEO Masayoshi Son proudly announced SoftBank’s breakthrough in what may sound like the biggest advancement or the most horrifying development to many- a robot being able to depict human emotions. Humanoid Pepper uses an ‘Emotional Engine’- Facial and Voice Recognition in order to ascertain what a subject is feeling like. Human emotions are considered to be some of the most important things to understand, even in Psychology. With Pepper, a quantification has been added, even to emotions. Pepper studies the subject, and displays how is it feeling on its front screen.
Honda’s ASIMO (Advanced Step In MObility) has made many theories go wrong, and put many thinkers into awe with its phenomenal capacity to learn and adapt. ASIMO has the ability to recognize moving objects, postures, gestures, its surrounding environment, sounds and faces. This 4ft 3in tall Humanoid weighing 54kg can walk at a speed of 2.4kms an hour. All these features are instigated using numerous censors in order to create a machine which can actually ‘interact’ with humans. Honda had unveiled ASIMO in 2000, and since then has kept it under a constant pace of development.
Intelligent Ecosystem: This might sound similar to IoT, but is more specific. Talking about Streets and Freeways(Highways), how about all of them having censors monitoring all the vehicles throughout the route to look out for any possible accidents or traffic jams…or how about ACs/Heaters being able to know present temperature outside the house, and by studying the owner’s expressions adjusting the room temperature.
Innovating: So far, AI has been developed to ease maximum human tasks. Innovating or Creating Something New, might well be the toughest of them all. Robots, Software, Algorithms, Censors and many more devices have been developed to observe, analyze and adapt accordingly to the usage. Innovating might remain to be a very difficult benchmark for AI to achieve, since it requires endless imagination and many a times, lesser critical thinking- both of which can’t be quantified.
Artificial Intelligence is at the point where it can offer infinite opportunities to us. We are looking at systems that will be able to answer our questions, simplify our tasks and often do the tasks themselves, for giving us the better results. The dimensions of Analyzing and Interpreting have been pretty much obtained, but the core thing stays distanced. Artificial Intelligence might still lack the capability to understand complex human relations, another thing which can’t be explained with 100% accuracy. Hence the future of Artificial Intelligence definitely stands for – Creating, Answering and Taking Up things by itself. This is where Terminator and a lot more popular culture movies come into picture, stating that if ‘Machines are made more intelligent than Humans, we’ll end up being their slaves.’ This can’t be taken as sufficient reason to hinder the development, although many people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking think so. Things are going to change, and it’s likely they’ll be for the better than for the worse. And to keep up with that change, Artificial Intelligence might have a need to add on new dimensions in itself, redefining itself. The future might be distant, but is still round the corner…With a gift of a better society.