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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Humans and Machines of the future - 1

Artificial Intelligence(AI) is a relatively new field of technology closely linked to computer science. In its short period of existence AI has progressed a lot. Initially AI was all about making computer solve mathematical problems and then make it speak a few words. 

By 1997, the technology was advanced enough to beat a reigning world chess champion, Gary Kasperov was beaten by IBM's the then supercomputer Big Blue. This year Google's AlphaGo beat a South Korean master of Go. The game of Go, played in South Korea, Japan and China is very complex and it has almost infinite number of potential configurations.

What took nature millions of years, in case of computers and robots we are able to do in a few decades. Robotics is closely linked to Artificial Intelligence. Robots are used in different industries to do routine manufacturing work. Robots are widely used in manufacture of electronics, automobiles, food packaging etc. There are robots in International Space Station that work as assistants of astronauts. Such rapid growth in AI, opens up lots of possibilities.

If the robot is a learning system,it would constantly evolve itself from experience. It would be possible to create robots that will create their copies, Self Replicating Robots. Robots are much better suited to survival in space and other planets as compared to humans.

So in the future, for space exploration all humans would need to do is send this highly intelligent robots on different planets and from the resources available there, they would create more robots. In this way these robots will fill the entire cosmos. 

These robots are going to send the all the information about the universe back to the earth. They will conduct all kinds of experiments as per the instructions provided to them or they may even use their own intelligence and experience to design the experiments. The rate at which AI has grown over the years, it is very much possible that artificial intelligence may surpass human intelligence. 

Computers are going to get faster and faster. Going by Moore's law every 18 to 24 months the processing power of microprocessors doubles. So in the next 20 years one can expect computers to have over 1000 times more processing power than the processors available today, in 40 years they will be a million times faster, in 60 years they will be more than a billion times faster, with a billion times more memory, a billion times more storage. Such high computing power can surely make robots more intelligent than humans. 

So are we the humans, prepared to let this intelligent machines become the more dominant life forms across the universe? Here lies a danger -- this advanced machines might make us slaves. Scientist Stephan Hawking has already warned about AI taking over humanity in the future. So what can humanity do to overcome a situation where it becomes a pet of the machine?

The answer many believe lies in becoming one with the machines. In other words man and machine will unite in the future. We will become half humans and half robots. The machine part of us will let us travel across different planets and stay there no matter what the temperatures or conditions may be. The human part of us will take advantage of the faculties of mind that is beyond logic like intuition, emotion etc. 

It is a very well known fact that genes control the physical, behavioural aspect of human beings. With better knowledge of genetics, the future humans may be far more advanced than the present day humans.

Even before we knew about the existence of genes or DNA humans were genetically modifying plants and animals. Many fruits, vegetable and crops that we see today have come into existence due to selective breeding done by humans.

Corn won't have existed the way it is, had it not been for humans. Many species of animals were created by humans by cross breeding species found in different geographical locations. 

The knowledge of genes can make this process faster and may help us take quantum leaps in the evolution of our and other species. It will be very interesting to see the final product that comes out when this advanced humans are integrated with advanced Artificially Intelligent machines.

The final outcome may be far beyond our imagination, we may end up being nothing but obsolete beings, like the primate that were the ancestors of today's monkeys and humans. 





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