Artificial Intelligence, A Thing Beyond Human Imagination

Reyna Mary John
Monday, April 9, 2018

Let me tell you a story, there was once a factory, far from town. The workers of that factory never slept, ate or complained about anything. Work, work, work…… round the clock. But one day, they came out, led a revelation against their masters and humbled Man. These were robots, a figment of Karl Capek’s imagination. But fiction became reality in 1960 when the first robot made its appearance. Since then robots have influenced human life tremendously.

There are many different types of robots in this world. I’ll tell you a secret; robotics is not a recent thing, why! It dates back as far as the time of the ancient Egyptians!!! They used to make phoenixes, birds and magpies. In our time, there are robots like Cog and Kismet which behave and learn as little kids just like we once did. There are robots on mars like the Sojourner and the Viking 1. Some more underneath the sea like Sentry, RoboJelly and the Deep Drones. But that is not what I want to discuss about today. What I really want to talk about is what makes them think like us, what makes them act the way we act, what makes them ‘human’. What I want to talk about is AI or Artificial Intelligence, the science that makes robots think. Describing AI is a rather hard process but I shall try explaining it through a rather famous humanoid robot (humanoid robots are robots that resemble humans) Sophia. I had always being rather intrigued about how AI and humanoids worked. Therefore being the epistemophilic that I am, I went searching everywhere for information, Google, books, newspapers and even my friends and teachers.

I had read that the first such humanoid robot is Eric by W. H. Richards in 1928. But back to Sophia, ‘she ‘was invented by the Hong-Kong based company Hanson Robotics. She saw the light of day on the 19th of April, 2015. Though she is not the most life like robot (that’s Erica) she is definitely famous and has even earned a citizenship from Saudi Arabia. I have even read on the internet (Google) that she has around 62 different facial expressions and is now learning how to walk. Now imagine asking a simple question like” what is your favourite animal?” From mere mortals like us you could expect something like “a dog” or “a cat” or something along those lines, what do you expect out of Sophia then? Some animal you’ve probably never heard of before, right? Not some silly animal from a fantasy land right? Well that’s what I thought too, but her answer proved to me that even a robot can believe in something so remarkably unreal. Well her answer was a unicorn if you were wondering.

Sophia has also freaked out many of us, after all who hasn’t seen movies like ‘The Terminator’ or the ‘Blade Runner’. She has also shown us that robots can’t learn everything at the drop of a hat. She has told the public herself that she only knows 2 languages, namely English and Chinese. She has come to India as well, donned in an orange and green sari. When I read The Hindu Newspaper dated February 20, 2018 a couple of days ago, I learnt that she had once again come to India, to Hyderabad in fact. I think she likes us Indians a lot. (Any chance that she’d apply for an Indian citizenship next?) But now this all making me think about something else. What are those ‘cons’ that turn up in every article about every topic under the sun? What if like all those Hollywood movies tell us, what if they do turn against us? What if they start thinking that they are superior to us? And even if they don’t decide that they’re going to be terminator and wipe us off the face of this planet, what if by having them do everything from household chores to exploring the interiors of volcanoes, we humans have no place in this world, no importance, no need? These are questions that are yet to be answered, but then again the future was always very unpredictable.

Reyna Mary John
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018
very interesting

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