Thursday, April 23, 2009

One of the many fascinating things that we have talked about this week is the world of technological singularity or artificial intelligence. I truly believe that one day, these inventions will change our lives in ways we can only imagine right now. We have all thought about having a robot to help us with our homework, a robot to clean our house or room, or even one that could tell jokes (maybe?). I think that the idea is unbelievably interesting as well as a little frightening at the same time.

Most, if not all of us have seen the Jetsons. We know about Rosie, the “nanny robot” who takes care of the children and cleans as well. What is a Rosie really existed? We brought this option up this week during the presentation. Would this be something you would entrust the well being of your children to? What if something went wrong such as a mechanical malfunction or battery situation…and your toddlers were left to roam the house unattended! Being a father myself, this makes me nervous to think of leaving my daughter, who is prone to mischief, alone with a robot that could malfunction at any second. Along the same lines, there could be a situation where the robot could do a better job than a babysitter. Teenagers often do things while babysitting instead of putting the needs of the children first. This could be as potentially as dangerous as the robot malfunctioning.

My brother has a Roomba robot that vacuums his floor and a Scooba robot that mops his hardwood floors. He simply pushes a button before he leaves for work, and when he gets home, the robots have cleaned and mopped the entire house. It is truly an unbelievable feat to have a robot clean your floors. If you told me as a child that a robot would clean my floors one day, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. That would have been 50 years away I would have told you. I look to the future and wonder exactly where we will be in 50 years. Will we have robots that can “think” and act for themselves or will we not have any robots more than what we have? Will we have reached the top of our technological curve? I think that this will not happen because if we remember, the US Government truly contemplated closing the Patent Office in 1899 because they thought that everything had been invented! How far have we come…


  1. Personally, I think artificial intelligence will only be a thing of the very distant future because even with our current technology, robots are still far from having the kind of capabilites that humans have.

    I took an introductory course to computer science back in my home university about 2 semesters ago and if my memory doesn't fail me, I remember discussing in class about how even though computers have come such a long way, they still cannot do certain tasks deemed simple by humans-- like face recognition. I wondered about this and went to Google it. Apparently, they have a security robot that can recognise faces:

    However, as impressive as that may seem, I also stumbled across this hilarious (and more up-to-date) article from the Times Online, where the reporter goes through the facial recognition system at the airport. I recommend reading it. It's pretty amusing:

    It just goes to show that even impressive capabilities of computers have their drawbacks, which is exactly why I'd say we still have some ways to go.

  2. I too think we've come an amazingly long way with computer and AI technologies but at the same time, I don't see them being able to think on their own or anything like that anytime in the near future. A robot can only think and do as much as its creator can program it to do. And as I'm sure we've all seen in our day to day interactions with our laptops or with copiers, the reliability of these technologies isn't one hundred percent. My hostmom in Japan had a Roomba too and I remember her being less than satisfied with it because it missed vacuuming things up or it would get stuck somewhere and then not come back to that spot, thinking it was done there when it really wasn't. I think there are many cases where the whole 'if you want something done right, do it yourself' mentality is applicable to technologies like these robots that are meant to make our lives simpler but sometimes seem only to complicate things. I suppose we may get to the point where these technologies work without error and in ways we never would've thought possible, but I don't see this happening in our lifetimes.

  3. I would have to bandwagon. I think that although we are becoming more technological dependent and advanced, we are a very long way from actually allowing it to dominant us.I would have to agree with Alicia. A robot is only as smart as the person who created it and therefore only capable of doing things that the creator allows for it to do. The creator can always outsmart the computer/robot. Although we function at a higher rate with new technology, we are able to function without them as well. I think that without being to able to deal with this void, we will eventually see our downfall.

  4. AI technology has been updated much more quickly than before. As the video clip that we watched in class last Wednesday, technology has developed speedily in the past ten years. However, I would agree with the previous posts that AI would not be able to dominate humans in the near future. One of the most important reasons would be that, still, there are many technical issues waiting to be fixed to make our life completely digitalized. Another reasons would be that, humans would always try our best to find ways regulating AI/ computers. We will definitely keep improving the functions of computers to make our life even more convenient, but we will manage the life on our own to certain degree since we know how serious the consequences would be if our world is dominated by computers.

  5. I don't know what to think about the possibility of technological advances. It seems we have come so far as you mentioned with robot house cleaners and all, but exactly how technologically advanced are they? The idea of such a robot at first sounds impressive, but if you think about it, the robot probably functions just due to a set of equations used as commands. In the end it seems not far of a step beyond a calculator in a ways. I think it’s a possibility for humans to create a human-like robot, but I don't believe it will be exactly like a human. I think human characteristics such as individual choice and conscious along with emotions will be hard if not impossible to replicate via machinery. We well definitely keep improving technology, but I doubt an end will be reached especially in the form of human replicas.