The Future Of Robotics

NP: The Fate of Autonomous Humanoid Intelligence

By James W. Astrada

 

In the Digital Age we currently reside in, another victory for the technological world has come forth.  According to sources, Boston Dynamic Inc. has won a $10.9 million contract to help create a set of defense robots for DARPA and their program.  DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency established a challenge program to initiate the introduction to A.I. for military purposes.  DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies for the use by the military.  Their main center of research usually include computer networking and as well as the NLS (program the first hypertext system and an important precursor to the contemporary graphic user interface).  As of late many conspiracy theorists believe DARPA is also responsible for using its technology for mind control.

These new robotic platforms would be fashioned after human body containing two arms, legs, a torso, a “brain” (sensor head), and onboard computing.  The Defense Department stated that these autonomous robots would be specifically used for providing assistance for evacuation and relief efforts in case of manmade or natural disasters that would be potentially dangerous for human aid.  Due to their human-like appearance, they would be able to utilize tools and comply with human-engineered environments.

Although supervised by DARPA’s main program, these robots will have the ability to operate intelligently in case of “system failure” or breakdown. By 2014, if the robots are able to pass the tests of the program “Virtual Disaster Challenge” located at Waltham Massachusetts, they will move onto the next phase of the program.  The idea to eliminate human error from the equation is not such a new idea.  Hollywood has portrayed these events with famous title such as the Terminator Franchise that dealt with Skynet; the super intelligent computer system that saw humans as inadequate. With the creation of the T-800 portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the cyborg was able to pass as human unnoticed with the development of super advance synthetic skin.

Although many believers suspect a post-apocalyptic human/machine war, could A.I. potentially see the need for the elimination of the human being?  Back in 2011, the super intelligent game machine Watson developed by IBM defeated the most gifted Jeopardy players by a landslide.  Watson had the ability to speak as a human, and even acquired as sense of humor with quirky responses.  Recently, the remake of Total Recall emerged with the main premise of robots or synthetics.  After a chemical nuclear war, only two locations on Earth were sustainable for human life.  As living spaced became an issue, Cohagen (the main antagonist) decided to replace the poor location (named “The Colony”) with synthetic workers that would eliminate the need to accommodate the citizens stationed there.  Although the synthetics represented the traditional robotic appearance, the idea was still there to replace human menial jobs/activities.  The ironic nature was the fact that humans from The Colony were building these police robots that would eventually be programmed to eliminate them.

With the economy as fragile as it is in its current state, the future of human jobs will be affected.   Once robots replace the basic job responsibilities, the poor and middle class will suffer the most.  Technology is necessary to operate at maximum efficiency in this day and age as we cannot live normally without it.  Just imagine a world void of 4G/5G networking, the absence of WI-FI, computers, I-phones, android, and the entire grid.  The outcome of human societies would suffer sheer madness.  We are all unfortunately connected to each other by technology and something this beautiful also has negative side effects.  With each creation, there is the same capacity for destruction.  In regards to technology, perhaps there might be many “system failures” to come that might put humans at the mercy of A.I.; the very programs we trust to govern our daily lives.  It could be possible that this intelligence will surpass our own and deem us inadequate.  Technology is advancing at a rate that humans will not be able to keep up with.  The only thing we can do as vigilant and logical human beings is create some sort of back-up program that will save us in case of “malfunctioning units” that consider us as threats.

 

References

Noah Shachtman “DARPA’s Magic Plan: ‘Battlefield Illusions’ to mess with Enemy Minds.” wired.com (February 2012).

Ian Paul. “IBM Watson wins Jeopardy, humans rally back.”  PC World (February 2011).

Boston Dynamics to supply hardware for software teams.” robots.net/article/3349.html (April 2012).

Mark Hoover. “Boston Dynamics wins contract to produce humanoid robots.”  Washington Technology (August 2012).

Peter Moon. “AI will surpass human intelligence after 2020.” Computer World (May 2007).

© James Astrada 2012

 

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