Why Do We Need Robots : Artificial Intelligence

This is the second part of three in our series "Why Do We Need Robots?". The goal is to highlight the major reasons why robotics will be part of our future, and an essential one, by looking a bit further. While the democratization of robots is rendering them more and more present in our daily lives, most people have still mixed-feelings about the future. Many apocalyptic movies have depicted a future where either the robots are exterminating the humans or enslaving them. Few (or even none) have done the opposite. That is to say illustrating the benefits of a society full of robots, and its inevitability.

After looking at Demography, we'll be looking at another reason why we need robots : Artificial Intelligence (AI)

why do we need robots artificial intelligence aiArtificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is kind of a buzzword and have been on everyone's lips lately. With the advances in Machine Learning and Neural Network, the successes of Google's AlphaGo, and the democratization of Siri, Cortana, and other assistants, what was only a dream 20 years ago is now a palpable tomorrow. But what's the link with robots?

The 4 types of Artificial Intelligence

Before diving any further, let's take a short moment to have a common ground on how we can classify an artificial intelligence.
  • Type I : Reactive

    These are AI systems only react and can't neither form memories or use previous experiences to adapt current decisions. Example : Deep Blue - IBM's chess playing computer which beat Kasparov.
  • Type II : Limited Memory

    Further up on the ladder, these systems consider information and add them to their preprogrammed representations. Example : Self-driving vehicles or chatbots
  • Type III : Theory of Mind

    These would understand thoughts, emotions, motives - and thus interact socially like a person. Example : C-3PO and R2-D2.
  • Type IV : Self-Aware

    These would form representations about themselves. Making them sentient beings. Example : Eva in the 2015 movie Ex Machina.

But what's the link between Artificial Intelligence and Robots?

We define a robot as an electro-mechanical device capable of reacting to its environment, making decisions on its own, and taking actions in order to achieve a task. Which is pretty much what artificial intelligence are, especially Type I and II. Furthermore, artificial intelligence will help make robots even smarter. And smarter robots are better robots. And robots (as in the electro-mechanical sense of the word) will help AI interact with the real world in a broader scope. This is truly a time where software and hardware will mutually sustain their improvements and make each other better and more powerful. And what if they could apply these improvements to the human race itself?

How AI & Robots will help us move beyond our biological constraints

While computers (and robots) are getting more powerful and smarter every day,there's an event horizon which is quite hard to see through. But what's today's science-fiction will be tomorrow's reality. And at the evolution rate and speed, those who won't get on the AI and robotics train will be left behind. For Elon Musk, the gap in intelligence means you could end up being an AI pet, a house cat.
One of the solution would be to have a layer of artificial intelligence symbiotically working with your own brain. Musk advocates that we're already cyborgs as our smartphones act as a digital and partial intelligent version of ourselves. But our constraint is in terms of inputs and especially outputs which are ridiculously low. With a neural lace, humanity would move beyond our biological constraints in terms of input/output. You can apply the same logic about the body constraints and mechanical add-ons. We're looking not a "Man vs Machine" future but "Man & Machine" as explained by Ray Kurzweil.
While many dangers lie in this future where we'll be merging with machines, most of the outcomes would benefit people and society. If we enact and take a path to safe artificial intelligence, we could reach a new model of society. One more productive and efficient, where the help of the machines can reduce work time and free people to have more time with their loved ones or to pursue their own interests. And that outcome of a more peaceful society where robots and artificial intelligence will allow us to focus not on work and wealth production, but on self improvement and human connections, is another reason why we need robots.

Coming up next in "Why Do We Need Robots?"

In the final part of this series, we'll be looking at why the very survival of our species lie in Robotics and Robots. Make sure to stay tuned!
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