When I say artificial intelligence I imagine androids like Data from Star Trek or the little robot boy from the movie A.I. that wanted nothing more than to be a real boy. Others may envision artificial intelligence as something more organic like the Nexus androids from the movie Blade Runner with Harrison Ford or even just a blob like Flubber in that Robin Williams Movie.
Intelligence can be defined in many different ways according to Wikipedia: such as “one’s capacity for logic, abstract thought, self-awareness, communication, learning, emotional knowledge, memory, planning, creativity and problem solving”.
According to Google definitions: “Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence exhibited by machines or software.” Now you could also argue that a cloned sheep is artificial and that it may also be intelligent, but we will stick to the “machines and software” part for now. After all, a big part of the excitement about artificial intelligences is that they are man made and in a clone the intelligence in essentially just copied from nature.
Apart from the real definition of A.I. there are still many devices and computer programs we come across in everyday life that the average person would perceive as being intelligent. How does the automatic door know that I want to go through it? How do websites know what I’m interested in?
Evidently if the hardware can respond to the user appropriately then real intelligence isn’t necessary. The illusion of intelligence is enough for most real life applications and real Artificial intelligence may not be as compliant as one would hope. Actually most people are convinced that a truly intelligent machine would do away with any human component rather quickly. The smart machine revolting against humanity such as in The Matrix has been a topic of all kinds of stories even before the invention of the modern computer. Who knows, maybe we really don’t want intelligent machines, but personally I would love to have a conversation with the most logical android in the world. Oh the questions I would ask.
Writing this now I’m remembering Doctor Know (voiceover done by Robbin Williams RIP) from the movie A.I. and in many ways modern websites have become something very similar to that character. Thank to modern voice recognition programs you can now talk to many search engines and other websites and many also have a tts (text to speech) application that allows the answer or result to be read out loud to the user. A few modern real life androids are:
Honda’s “Asimo”, “Jules” and “Zeno” both created by Hanson Robotics and “NAO” developed by Aldebaran Robotics.
“Asimo” is generally accepted as the robot with the best bipedal movement. Asimo can see his environment, walk on two feet, climb stairs and even hop. Other than that however Asimo’s capabilities are rather slim.
“Jules” is probably the android with the most human facial features and just like his little brother Zeno he can wol, talk, see, hear, recognize faces and have a full conversation about almost any topic.
“Nao” from what I can tell is very much like “Zeno” in the way that they are both playful little robots designed to interact mainly with young humans. Nao can learn and recognize familiar faces and objects, walk, talk and tell stories.
Prices ranging from $300 – $10,000 dollars, androids and robots still have quite a way to go before they are seen in the average home but they are definitely here (and learning… ). Come to think of it, 10 years ago my mother already had acquired a two hundred dollar robot called “Roomba” that would vacuum the house and also slowly learn how to do so without constantly running into walls and other objects. I thought it was silly at the time, but years later I recognize that it was actually quite useful.
Oveemo is a web system that is basically an android, Ai or virtual assistant without the body
So what can we say about artificial intelligence these days after looking at what we have on hand? By definition we are still quite a long way from creating true artificial intelligence but we are already creating pretty convincing models. I dare say that the seemingly human android might become reality within the next 5 to 10 years.
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