Monday, June 28, 2010

¬∀ r ∈ Robots: r = Bad

Its interesting how, any discussion about AI or robots never misses terminator or "us vs robots" scenarios, but, generally misses the many "not so bad" robots in fiction. I guess, to some extent the more popular the movie, bigger the influence. These fears may not be baseless though. After all, I have heard that most of the robotics/AI research is usually funded by the military.

When one asks questions like, is steel good or bad? It depends on how it is used by us. But, this analogy may not quite work with robots when (and if) they reach the point of matching our intelligence. Then it may not be us, who decide how they should be used. Personally, I think the majority cannot be destructive as, it is not self sustaining. Anything that "survives" the various tests, that, nature throws at it, eventually has to have a majority in numbers of the constructive or the productive kind.

My favorite robots in fiction (and one real).

In fiction:

Johnny 5

Image From

Bender aka Bender Bending Rodriguez

Spirit (Mars Rover): This fellow has been working all alone on mars since January 4, 2004. He surpassed all expectations of him and worked 21 times more, than what was planned for him. Day after day collecting analyzing samples and diligently sending its finding back to us, till he finally got stuck in Martian sand. Last we heard from him was on 1st May 2010. No bleep from him since.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How Viable is Technological Singularity?

Guest post by Anna Miller.

Now I don’t claim to be smarter than Ray Kurzweil, and I do realize that I’m throwing down some sort of a gauntlet by debating the viability of technological singularity on a blog that promotes synthetic life and progress in this field. But I still raise the question – how viable is technological singularity, the concept that technology will progress rapidly over the next few years, and that because human beings are incapable of pushing their brains and intelligence beyond a certain limit, machines will start to build machines that are more capable than them, and this recursive cycle will lead to a new race of super-intelligent machines.

Believe it or not, the first time I heard of this concept from a friend, I immediately thought, “Terminator”. Didn’t they make a sci-fi movie with this idea more than a decade or so ago? And do they not see the doom that technological singularity spells for the human race? If machines became more intelligent than the human race, how would we survive? And what kind of a world would Earth become if it was populated with machines that had no human emotions whatsoever?

No matter how advanced technology becomes, and no matter how intelligent machines become, it is going to be impossible to recreate the human brain. This is one organ that is beyond comprehension, let alone duplication or improvement. It boggles the mind to think of all that the human brain can do, and if Ray Kurzweil or anyone else think that they can make a machine do much more than the human brain can, well, they’re dead wrong.

Sure, a machine can be programmed to work for eternity without breaking down from fatigue; it can be taught to make decisions based on an accumulation of facts; and it can even be created to resemble a real flesh-and-blood human being. But then, can a machine make decisions that are based on emotion and not reason? Can it think intuitively and using a humane approach as needed during most crises? Or can it replicate human touch to generate comfort, pleasure and warmth?

Thanks, but no thanks; even if technological singularity was viable even 100 years from now, I would still prefer that the world we leave behind for our children not comprise monstrosities that we call technological advancement!
This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of online degree. She welcomes your comments at her email id: