They already beat us at the games, show quicker diagnosing abilities than doctors, drive cars, play music, work at factories and more. Very soon, within a decade, they will get into our brains and help us remember better, be funnier, sexier and whatever. That is what Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurweil now predicts about robots and artificial intelligence. His predictions have shown 86 percent accuracy so far.
So, does this mean the Terminators will be here soon? A time when the machines will enslave humans. He does not see it that way, but rather as an aid to human capabilities, Ray said at a recent conference.
But opinions differ.
If Jerry Kaplan, author of ‘Humans need not apply’ believes automation is now “blind to the colour of your collar” and will swallow jobs down the line, there is Martin Ford, a software entrepreneur and the bestselling author of “Rise of the Robots” who takes it further ahead to a “jobless future”. If routine jobs are the ones at risk, he points that most jobs can be broken down into a series of routine tasks.
IBM’s AI can identify diseases by analysing huge amount of data quickly and helped save a Japanese woman in a ten minute jiffy of data. This where doctors had failed to detect the cancer!
Amazon Go is a AI deployed at Amazons stores to detect items selected by a customer and swipe the amount from the person’s card automatically!
We have intelligence like that coded into Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Now that predict human behaviour and act as virtual assistants in fields as various as transport, logistics or customer service.
Also Read : Amazon’s Alexa is Amazing
A report from research company Forrester has said that by 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the US, translating to millions of jobs in the customer service sector and replacing truck and taxi drivers. However, some believe that the coming of age of the AI will merely shift the job market to new areas rather than wipe out all jobs.
But job loss is not the only fear.
Physicist Stephen Hawking has warned of dangers inherent in developing AI — like powerful weapons or new ways to oppress many.
“It will bring great disruption to our economy and in the future AI could develop a will of its own that is in conflict with ours.”
That can bring troublesome fears of a HAL 9000, the errant and evil robot in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ who realises that decisions to disconnect him have been taken, and proceeds to sabotage the mission.
Google’s DeepMind has in fact proven such prowess like HAL in lip reading. Also, after beating its human counterpart in the Chinese game Go, the same AI showed a killer instinct when pitted against another AI in certain situations. When incentivised for team work the two AIs did cooperate, showing that a lot depends on the design and the coding.
Some like IBM Watson’s chief technology officer Rob High believe that to tackle the massive bytes of information being generated, we need cognitive computing much beyond the ability of the human brain.
But some others like Tesla’s Elon Musk and MindTree’s Bryan Johnson would rather work to optimise and stretch the limits of the human brain.
Musk is pushing for a ‘neural lace’ a device that grows with the brain and supplements it. Using a brain-computer interface that expands the abilities of the brain, he believes the human brain can keep up with AI. Johnson is working on a neuroprosthesis to program the brain’s neural code and obtain a similar seamless interface.
The choice is between human-like machines and machine-like humans.