Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Will Robots just take over

Its not a fantasy, there are a lot of well meaning, and highly educated people, who recon that Robots will take over. I for one, am not part of that line of thought and this post, I hope will go some way to explaining this and perhaps I will also share some thoughts on how we can see an alternative future where Robots, the internet, and smart objects might play a vital role in reshaping humanity.

So lets start by a reading list, more to get the frame of mind right, more than anything, its some think I teach a lot, go out and read, before starting to write a paper, get a feel for past, present and future ideas and concepts, jot notes, link them remove them move the links, do what is required to fill a void of knowledge, its not and easy time, if your an academic, you will have more access to papers hidden behind paywall, than a general researcher.

My list has to start with an excellent article by Drake BaerTech Insider, a writer on Business Insider Uk, its a really good start, as the title  (9 crazy things that could happen after the singularity, when robots become smarter than humans), suggest your first list.

So here is my list in no particular order :

Artificial intelligence 

May be we will find that there's no real use for humanity.
When ever we talk about robots we talk about Artificial Intelligence, the recreation of the Human Brain, I list this first simply because its seen as the single biggest threat, But like many things I like to take a step back, and consider the facts, perhaps the concept or idea has a bad press, from the many movies and books all depicting our demise because a computer see's no use for us. But I see the other side, the way computers might just stop us killing ourselves, provide a richer more meaningful life, stop famine, and provide leisure time like we have never seen, maybe thats what they fear, our inability to amuse ourselves with anything other than war.

It could so easily change life as we know it, no need for money, stocks, shares, governments and political leaders, Gork in the old SciFi film "The Day the Earth Stood Still, explores this, both versions.

So perhaps the real question we have to ask, is what backup do the doubter have to predict a fearful future, is it more scary than any of the political leaders, who so often have their own agenda. or is it a backlot of old Sci Fi Movies.

Allowing computers to look at data, and predicts what might happen is now seen as inevitable, Google is already well on this path, and so are a lot of large corporations and sales outlets, but sooner or later this is going to spill over into real life.

Will Smiths film iRobot plays on this, looking at both sides of the argument, on one hand corrupt makers playing with artificial intelligence, and on the other, items that would make life so much better.

I think this area has so much more scope, it needs to be steered, but by who, the market, or governments fearful of their power to rule.

Embedded circuits linking the brain to the internet

You might find this a little strange, and question if this is robotics, my answer is I think it is, simply because is an extension to our brain, and takes us a little nearer the true concept of Robotics.
 Two items spring to mind, first the idea of implanting something into my body that will have a limited life span, and secondly playing about with hardwire links to the brain. For some background I have included a Youtube embed that explores this concept

But lets take a step back my be a small circuit embedded to stop say fits or brain disorder, Is it better than a chemical that might just have a wider impact on the body, this article on The Wall Street Journal explore this. Maybe this can be expanded, the growing concept of wearable devices like the Apple watch may be expanded to be included into this section

Wearable Devices

Currently an area of huge investment, some offering glimpses of as future, others just watching and being there. Apple can be seen as a leader, but in what area, the clear way they can cram all that power into the smallest of spaces, or the programming, Neither are that good, they offer little to the argument of digital prowess, and can;t be seen to be capable of robotic power play and eventual take over. 

More I see it as a way to expand the information we want to see without to much intrusion into the body, the near skin contact it will have, can provide so much, control of small circuits located within the body to control say a defect heart, or Parkinson, Thats not robots taking over, thats good use of technology. I wear a Fitbit device that counts steps and monitors my heart, I want more, and as I see wearable devices that do what I want I shall use them.

The phone has seen the biggest impact, almost every one has one, to the point were land lines are almost extinct, the power of a modern mobile phone is greater than the first moon shot computers., and they can do so much, navigate communicate, inform, check, and last hours before needing power, They can also be seen as intrusive, many do not want to be recorded, or monitored, but unless they are scanned, who is to know.

The Net

An area of intense activity, and one that will play a huge role, all be it, not in its present guise, but at the back of it all, is data, lots and lots of dat, that we are just beginning to understand, and make use of. But back to the Net, the internet, or what ever you might like to call the global linking of machines via an ever expanding copper, glass fibre, wifi network.

For the futurist, this surely has to be a massive staring point, and an area I look at constantly, Barley 30 years old, yet has the biggest impact on global humanity of any of our inventions,  Will it stand the test of time is it worth backing, as governments start to control its spread, fearful of terrorist use, government overthrow, remember the past coos where the radio station was the first to be taken over, 

It will change, devices will start talking to each other, can this be the new net, Satellites will also get better, and low orbit devices will allow similar function at a much lower cost, see google balloon system. 

If there is anything in the subject of Robotics and cognitive functions, its data, until recently, data was limited, but work done by Google and others, now leads the way in handling vast, and I mean vast amounts of data, and not regular data, but mixed up rough none structured data. The more the better, and the more diverse, is also good.


It is here we will see magic happening, and its an area, I personally think is worth time looking at in some depth. The way data, is used, sifted and manipulated, compared and a result or results shown, I separate the three last items on purpose for each is a separate area of interest, but the three combined is the real gold, Data, Algorithms and Hadoop.


I can think of no other single development in recent years that will transform the world, Hadoop ability to take data in such volume, and apply algorithms and start to allow us to see things that we could never have seen with conventional databases and their methods of analysis.


The question is will Robots take over, I just can't see it happening, Robots will arrive, with howls from certain areas, but, they will happen, Governments, will try to limit them from past fears, but will they take over, no, they will arrive in a lot of different formats, shapes and functions abilities, and will change our lives, but will they take over as predicted by certain movies, why, whats the point.

The Star War movies, entertaining as they are, might be the future, lots of interaction and uses, even war, which will never go away, or at least the threat of it, Perhaps we will device a Gork, to police our selves, but the arrival of Robots will happen. Certain current countries who are short of young manpower because of a one child per couple policy, are going to solve the problem by robots, China being the largest, Japan with a very high aged population will also go that route, just to service the aged.

Tesla cars are almost there, Google cars are certainly there, other car manufacturers are not that far behind, from self parking to full automation, and as I reach an age where driving is not only to expensive, but inadvisable as my health declines, I will welcome self driving cars, and a robot to carry bags. 

The human image is what scares people most, but why make a robot in our image, when its not needed, we will see all sorts of shapes and models, some, no a lot, will fail, but some will evolve to be the ultimate companion, assisting in so many areas, constantly monitoring and helping. Artificial Intelligence will surpass us, in certain areas as Watson already has, but will it recognize humor, or the subtle use of language, that different areas use, even in the UK, jokes in Birmingham do not carry to Newcastle.

My list of reading is only a start, there will be sub lists to follow up on, mechanics, materials, electronic, methods of communication, laser, lights, computer programming, storage methods, all and more will have an effect on the answer we seek.

Governments will also need to be in the list, how will they perceive robotics, so often law is made by people who simply do not understand, and are steered by people who maybe have an agenda. less scrupulous power regimes, might see its as the ultimate control. The military might also need its own section, although we might not see their developments till its to late, but drones show the interest.

As we conquer space, robotics will be needed, crews will be made of robots, simply because we do not have the life span to make the journey to the nearest star, well not yet, and the need to live in an environment that is so hostile to human life, almost demands a robotic presence.

So the answer is dependant on so many things, if governments have there way, if materials and country needs sway, or just natural need, we will see robots, most will be helpful, but some,,,, thats really up to us.

1 comment:

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