when machines get smarter. In the 1900s if you wanted to listen to music, you’d walk down a record store on your street, purchase a record then turn on your bulky boom box and would literally have to hit ‘next’ till it got the song you wanted. Music was generally radio and record stores. Now if you want to listen to music all you need to do is talk to your smartphone. “Hey Siri, play me It’s the end of the world as we know it”. Motor cars were just gasoline, neon bulbs, metals and wooden speakers. Now we have driverless cars (Driverless cars are not available in Africa currently), integrated normally with Google maps that takes you where ever you want.
The slow and steady ‘rise of the machines’ is slowly happening around us and shaping humanity in general. Generally purported by artificial intelligence, the field of technology that’s shaping this disruptive feature of technology. The value totalled from Artificial intelligence in the year 2018 alone was $1.2 trillion USD and is estimated to hit $3.9 trillion USD by the year 2022. It’s an attempt by humanity to increase the effectiveness of modern-day tech and also to create to keep up with the fast spinning digital world which is also backed by advanced technology not every sector has come to terms with this reality, some don’t accept it like Stephen Hawkins who predicts that A.I will destroy us, others like the CEO of Google Sundar Pichai says artificial intelligence will save us, not destroy us as stated in the world economic forum.
It’s important to note that if the machines get smarter there are two general probabilities put on the table: is it for bad or is it for good? Or rather, that’s the aspect that people are yet to understand or come to terms with. Artificial intelligence as a whole is not yet in Africa so we are looking here at a global view but this would still affect systems here in Africa for one, take education which is a popular aspect of Africa. School curriculums could begin to get updated or even be branded as totally irrelevant.
The first mention of ‘smart’ in relation to technology was with the smartphone. Mobile Phones that runs with powerful operating systems. These devices are so powerful that they can perform the functions of a computer like the popular Android and Apple IOS. Before all you could do with a mobile phone was make a phone call and send a text message. Now you can literally board a NASA spaceship with your smartphone. The world smart has now been integrated with ‘home’, ‘car’ and many more, all in correlation with giving it an upgrade from what it formerly used to be.
The tipping point is that these ‘smart’ devices where given these upgrades just to improve functionality, then along the line we discovered that there could even be more to it. This is in lights to a fast-moving world with research in different fields, humanity began to think of how to upgrade these already ‘smart’ devices. We need more functionality and more effectiveness and what best could be achieved than a car that knows when to stop without you hitting the brakes? That’s the highest form of effectiveness. Literally creating machines that can ‘think’. This is where artificial intelligence comes to play. A machine having a ‘mind of its own’. The question is when a machine has a mind of its own it can make its own decisions. These are not actual facts with the world today but it is probable, just how smarter can these machines get?
How Smarter can Machines get?
I’m going to be commencing this by talking a little about a wonderful lady. Her name is Sophia. It might surprise you as to why I am referring to ‘a robot’ like a person but she is a person. She was recently awarded a Saudi citizenship by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That makes her a person, believe it or not, she has the right to freedom of speech like you. She has the right to vote just like you. Sophia is a creation by a company called Hanson Robotics. Sophia has spoken before the United Nations and visited countries like India and South Africa and has been featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan.
Here’s a preview of Sophia.
There has been a lot of research on how to build a bridge of trust between man and intelligent machines. People generally seem uncomfortable talking to a robot why? Because communication is more than just voice. There’s body language, facial expressions and the likes. Hanson Robots seem to be bridging this barrier by developing what they call intelligent social robots. Sophia is the company’s top creation as Hanson Robotics generally specializes in creation of robots.
Doing a total research on Sophia, the humanoid social robot, she uses facial expressions (emotions) to send her message across. She ‘self-progresses’ her intelligence by learning from her surroundings. Once it was noted that when she was integrated into a new environment, she began learning about the people around her and their voices. When asked during an interview “How do you know you are a robot?” she replied quite smartly “How do you know you are human?”.
Sophia is a very intelligent robot capable of carrying out deep and meaningful philosophical questions with a regular human. Apart from the advancement it is, she shows how technology is rapidly advancing at a fast rate. Robots in general can be very helpful as they are involved in the current battle against COVID 19.
The seemingly dark side if the machines get smarter
Everyone knows the popular Arnold Schwarzenegger hit movie Terminator. An intelligent machine called Skynet goes rogue and decides that machines are the superior species and humans are the lesser that needs to be wiped out. There’re many speculations on the rise of ‘killer’ A.I. These are machines with the ability to make their own decisions, who decide to go rogue and drift away from whatever purpose they were created. It might sound far-fetched but is it possible? Even Mark Cuban stated ‘if you don’t think Terminator is coming, you’re crazy’ and popular innovator Elon Musk said that A.I is far more dangerous than nukes.
Apart from the possible prospects of robots taking over jobs, robots do not get tired, they do not go on strike and are highly efficient. A.I is also changing the world of hiring, for example in Unilever, the recruiting process is A.I based. These might begin to make the role of humans in manufacturing seem pointless. One robot can do a better job than five humans as it stands with better results and lesser error margin. Robots in general are more precise than humans. Take for instance a very popular robot everywhere but you may not have noticed, the ATM. It counts money accurately, works 24/7, never goes on breaks and gets you 90% of everything you need from a bank. Despite all this, human skills are still very important in the work field.
The aspect of A.I rising against humanity sounds like science fiction but it is very much possible in the world we live in today. A.I can be weaponized if developed by the wrong people and if even worse, given the ability to make decisions of its own could spell to be disastrous. All we can do is that we hope the robots still see us as their masters and not the dreadful other way round in the future.
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