Future of AI and Robotics: Are We Heading to Judgment Day?
Running robots, self-driving cars, underwater transformers and supercars drifting in space are now the reality we are living – not a movie trailer. Unbelievable things become real every day. And many of the scientific advances of the past years, in spite of being disciplinary versatile, have one thing in common – artificial intelligence. AI and robotics are entering different industries at a rapid pace, from agriculture to stock market, transforming work processes and entire businesses, offering more efficient, safer and more precise problem-solving.
Are we moving to a utopian society where everything functions effectively, people live long and happily without the risk of cancer, heart attacks and AIDS? Will we live in a reality where robots fulfill all the tedious and dangerous work and solve all the ecology problems? Or will people be mere puppets in the hands of an ultra-powerful artificial brain that can decide to erase the humanity at some point? Let’s explore the topic.
AI vs. Robotics: What Is What
First, let’s look at the current state of AI and robotics. Disclaimer: these two notions are separate things and you shouldn’t confuse them with one another. A robot is a programmed machine that fulfills a particular task. Adding AI will make an intelligent machine that can adjust to the changing environments when fulfilling its duties. We are still far from the day when smart robots can deal with any task, so fears about the approaching robot expansion remain a sci-fi overstatement.
Businesses try to use the opportunities offered by advanced robotics to the fullest. Industrial robots, UAVs, autonomous vehicles, consumer robots, healthcare robots – the global market is growing each year, and countries spend billions to automate processes from manufacturing to delivery. Luckily, the market is developing to offer even more advanced innovations. Recent tendencies in AI and robotics show the interest in collaborative and industrial robots, autonomous cars and blockchain, as well as general optimization of work processes by the latest AI solutions.
2018 Trends in Robotics
Collaborative robots. Due to advanced sensors and AI, collaborative robots, or co-bots, that have been around since the 1990s are living up to the hype today. In a nutshell, a co-bot is a robot that mostly works independently but still needs a human to enter its workspace. Modern collaborative robots can be redeployed to different working environments and interact with humans better. Industries that benefit from co-bots the most are automotive, metal, plastic and polymers, electronics, furniture, and equipment.
Cloud robotics. With every year, more and more robots will depend on cloud-based software. For robots, it’s entirely possible to download new apps, capabilities and skills to solve unfamiliar problems – you know, like the characters in The Matrix did. At the moment, machines require powerful computers and batteries in addition to pre-programmed data. Storing information in the cloud will make robots lighter and cheaper. A common cloud marketplace for robots will make smarter and more advanced machines in the future.
Robotics as a Service. RaaS is growing into a billion-worth industry, offering a new convenient business model. Robotics providers offer highly adaptable solutions to companies, and both sides benefit from such cooperation: companies avoid large investments while using the advantages of robotics systems, and RaaS providers can invest in the latest technologies sharing their expenses with many users.
2018 AI Trends
Self-driving cars. The autonomous vehicle market does not live by Tesla alone. Audi, Cadillac, Volvo, Toyota all implemented AI-based autopilots into their latest models with different complexity and success rate. Don’t expect that your new Audi A8 will manage the drive all by itself, but its AI will assist you on your trip and protect you during critical situations on the road.
Efficient logistics. Advanced robotics and artificial intelligence create highly efficient logistics solutions in Amazon Robotics. Learning robots work in Amazon’s warehouses to find and transport items. They can work 24/7, don’t require light, and provide faster and cheaper delivery. The technology is expected to spread to other big logistic companies in their quest for competitiveness.
Peer-to-peer networks and AI working together. Advanced AI programs will soon be available even to small organizations due to the use of the collective power of joint PCs. Now, Facebook applies machine learning to provide its users with a better content match. Such technology requires vast amounts of data and serious power backup. Peer-to-peer makes AI technologies more accessible for not-so-giant companies and startups.
AI and robotics penetrate our lives from different sides with sometimes frightening speed. To amp up the stakes even higher, let’s read about some impressive and almost dreamlike projects that are now being developed or investigated.
The Future Is Mindblowing
The latest inventions and research relies greatly on AI and robotics. Perspectives are fantastic and sums invested in the AI projects are enormous. You can decide for yourself whether it’s worth money and effort.
Microsoft Wants to Save the Earth
AI for Earth offers all cloud and AI tools developed by Microsoft to solve environmental problems. AI for Earth means grants, education, and training on AI, investments in the best solutions – all in all, Microsoft is committing $50 million to this game-changing technology. Microsoft believes AI can help in protecting species on the verge of extinction, monitoring the health of farms, modeling water supply, and predicting climate changes.
Detecting Cancer as Early as Possible
Every year, 14 million people are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Very often, the chances for survival depend on how early the disease is spotted. Companies such as DeepMind and IBM are working to train AI for creating plan treatments and studying the patients’ scans and test results. Artificial intelligence can help doctors identify cases faster and prioritize the most urgent issues. The results are promising – IBM’s Watson is 96% accurate in identifying various tumors.
Spot the Shooter
Machine learning technology is already helping police in 90 cities in the US and South America identify gunfire and quickly react to it 45 seconds after the pulled trigger. The ShotSpotter system uses acoustic sensors to detect the sound of a gunshot, define the exact place (25-meter accuracy) and count the number of shots to inform law enforcement officials about the number of shooters. The system’s AI can also specify whether the automatic weapons are used.
Aric Knows When People Cheat
The Adaptive Real-Time Individual Change Identifier, or Aric, is a creation of the two mathematicians’ AI company Featurespace. It is good at detecting hidden patterns and identifying strange behavior. First used to define cheating on Counter-Strike competitions, Aric is now an ultimate assistant in online banking, e-commerce and insurance. Aric’s improving with time and its anomaly detection can even warn that something suspicious is going on even if it doesn’t understand what it is.
It seems like we should reconsider our favorite sci-fi movies like The Matrix, Judge Dredd, Terminator and dwell upon the “fictitiousness” of the described events. Many of them don’t look so remote now, do they?
So Will AI Overcome Humanity?
Singularity is not our nearest future – AI is being significantly overblown, claims DARPA. Behind the awesome possibilities, there are a lot of challenges that AI and robotics are yet to face. The problem of imperfect data for machine learning and tiny changes in perceptible images that can cause AI to fail are among them.
There are two polar opinions about our future with AI: it would be either breathtakingly cool or gut-wrenchingly awful. Both theories have influential supporters with Elon Musk, Bill Gates and the late Stephen Hawking on one side and Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis, Jeff Dean and Ginni Rometty on the other.
Despite the different judgments, the prevailing thought of two camps sounds the same: “AI must do what we want it to do.” We should ensure that the reward wins out over the risk and view AI and robots as something that can amplify our capabilities, rather than substitute humans.