Artificial Intelligence is a broad subject, which demands an equal understanding in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Psychology. More specifically, Mechanical Engineering governs the way that a robot would physically interact with its surroundings. Electrical Engineering is incorporated by using sensors such as voice recognition circuits, or light sensors to give input to the “brain” of the robot. When this input is received by the brain, high level computer programs take the information and “decide” upon what reaction would best fit the given circumstances (Brooks, 1999).
It is at this point that the field of Psychology comes into play. The cycle mentioned above requires that researchers of Artificial Intelligence have a basic knowledge of stimulus and response, reasoning, problem solving, cognition, perception, and finally consciousness and thought. Artificial Intelligence, or simply A. I. , is defined as “the field of research that attempts to emulate human intelligence in a machine”(Kurzweil, 1999). Computers and thought have been aligned to develop A. I.. New break-throughs found in the research of A. I.
may lead to exotic new technologies. By looking at recent studies in the field of A. I. , one will get a better understanding of just what A. I. is, and, quite possibly, what it will hold for the human race in the future. Moore’s Law shows that technology and computational power doubles every eighteen months(Kurzweil, 1999). With this exponential growth of computational power the human race is allowed to delve further and further into its quest for a deeper understanding of life and consciousness. Consciousness is described as “the ability to have subjective experience.
The ability of being, animal or entity, to have self- perception and self-awareness. The ability to feel (Kurzweil, 1999). ” This ability is extremely important, for it describes exactly what separates humans from other organisms. What, if anything, can scientists do to create an A. I. with consciousness? This is the holy grail of A. I. researchers everywhere. In achieving this goal however, one runs into deep moral and philosophical issues. If an A. I. is self-aware, it is no longer just a series of computer programs, but instead, a “being” which has the ability to judge for “itself” what is right and wrong.
What would a conscious computer see as right and wrong? Its views and morals would probably be extremely different from ours, because of the circumstances that define its existence. “If humans are capable of creating an intelligence which exceeds ours, does that mean that we are in control of, and are more intelligent than the evolutionary process which created us (Kurzweil, 1999)? “, and “will the intelligence that we are creating come to exceed that of it’s creators (Kurzweil, 1999)”, giving it control over the evolutionary process (us) which created it.
These are all questions and situations that need great consideration before society gets itself into trouble, by letting our entire existence become too dependent upon technology. Take personal computers for example, almost every person has used one at one time or another, and it is growing harder and harder for one to go through life without using one on a daily basis, for research, to type academic papers, check your mail, listen to music, do your taxes, order flowers, pay credit card payments, write resumes, and even apply for jobs online.
All of these things are just practical uses for a consumer to use a personal computer. Think of all the supercomputers that are not on the consumer market, such as ATMs, all college campus networks, the machines used to diagnose medical conditions, buy and sell stocks, and to guide missiles, even the telephone systems are entirely controlled by connections to a mass of different computers and servers. These computers are incorporated into various facets of our lives that are non-dispensible, and if these computers were to vanish, the human race would be out of luck.
On the same note, what if these computers that have this control over our lives, were to exceed our intelligence, and had the free-will to do whatever it wanted to with the information that governs our day to day life. Once a computer exceeds human intelligence, it will necessarily roar past it (Kurzweil, 1999). Since thier creation, computers have exceeded the human mental capabilities to remember and process information. A computer can remember trillions upon trillions of facts perfectly, while it is hard for us to remember a handful of phone numbers.
Does this mean that in this world, where information is becoming increasingly more important everyday, that all of these computers in our everyday life, are already superior to humans? If our lives are becoming more and more reliant upon computerization, than that means the survival of the fittest scenario, will be redefined, because the fittest will no longer be the strongest animal, or the most predatoraly fit organism, but instead, fittest will mean which organism is smarter, holds the most information, or has the fastest computational power.
So will A. I. computers of the future realize this, seize their superiority, and establish themselves as the dominant species on earth. Although all of this might seem very grim and pessimistic, there are practical and helpful ways that A. I. can be utilized to ensure that life is more easily sustainable. For instance, Nanotechnology would allow genetic engineers to “manipulate single atoms to create structures (like molecules or genes) that can in turn be used to create even larger structures (like materials or beings)” (Seeholtz, 1992).
Such technology would allow creations such as artificially intelligent nanorobots to be installed into one’s immune system to help fight off diseases or even repair damaged organs. Consider downloading information directly into your brain. Hans Moravac came up with a process that would involve detailed “mapping, copying,” and finally “simulation in a powerful neural net (computer simulation of the human neurons) computer of every structure and pattern of the human brain”(Seeholtz,1992).
What this means is that “the consciousness of these biological structures and neural paths of the human brain should, then, reboot, and the reanimate itself as a separate, evolving cyberspace intelligence”, referred to by Moravac as your Cyber-I (Seeholtz, 1992). This process could give the human race a type of immortality. It would permit a backup copy of memories and personalities, allowing you to upload these characteristics into a robot or some other type of physical form.
Even though the examples given in the previous paragraph, may not be possible at this time, today’s scientists are getting closer and closer to creating a truly intelligent entity. Rodney Brooks, of the prestigious MIT A. I. lab, feels that the future of A. I. will not belong to gigantic computers that fill up entire rooms, but instead to small robots, which, unlike present day mobile robots that have to receive information from computer programs before they can move, learn everything, including how to walk, from scratch. Brooks calls this the “bottom-up” approach to A. I.
; meaning that the basis of the robot’s intelligence is gained through learning and applying what is already known to learn more and solve greater and more complex problems (Kaku, 1998). While these robots do not have reasoning ability, these new approaches to A. I. give us a better understanding of being and intelligence, and allow for new ideas and research to take place. What is so intriguing about this is the fact that biological organisms, such as a baby, learn from their own experiences, in much the same way that the bottom-up approach to A. I. lets robots learn from their own experiences.
In this approach, learning is everything, and programming and logic are nothing. In “Ghost In The Shell”, a futuristic movie about the first free-thinking A. I. , the main character gives a statement about the importance that experience plays in intelligence. He says “all of the experiences and information that one aquires is just a drop in the bucket,” the bucket being the human mind collecting thousands of these drops to make up an individuals consciousness, personality, and sense of being. Is this the approach that will take A. I. to the next level?
It can be argued that DNA is basically the same thing as a computer program designed to preserve itself. Life has become more complex in the growing wealth of information that humans gain everyday. And life, when organized into species, relies on genes and DNA to be its memory system. So man is only an individual due to his intangible memory. And if memory cannot be defined, but defines mankind, then the invention of computers, which have infallible memories, will redefine everything that makes us, as human-beings, unique and will give new meaning to what we now call intelligence and consciousness.
I believe that humans have underestimated the consequences of computerization. By allowing computers to control most everything that we interact with on a daily basis, we are causing ourselves to become dependent upon them. If all computers were to simultaneously cease to work, for how long could mankind exist without the commodities that computerization has bestowed upon us. This could possibly be the downfall of mankind. Each of these theories offer no evidence as to what exactly will make up an artificially intelligent, living, thinking lifeform.
It is just as difficult, however, to give any evidence of what exactly makes biologically intelligent, living, thinking lifeforms. If an A. I. was to ask us for proof of our existence, how could we give it evidence that we are alive, when neither modern science or philosophy has been able to prove what life is? I believe that A. I. researchers are looking for the answers to questions that all humans ask themselves at one point or another.
Such questions as “what is the meaning of life”, “what defines consciousness”, “what makes humans unique”,and “what exactly are souls and spirits. ” It was my desire to find answers to these questions that ultimately lead me to want to pursue a career in Artificial Intelligence. I also strongly feel that once human-kind is able to produce a free-thinking, self-aware, conscious entity in a controlled environment, we will then have in our hands the answers to these and many other questions that have been plaguing it since the beginning of time.