Artificial intelligence (AI) is invading the world. In the 90s and early 21st century AI achieved its greatest success. There are more and more jobs which humans leave to robots such as exploring another planet, defusing bombs, exploring inside a volcano or just doing boring household chores like cleaning. Computers can perform a lot of functions: they can control cars and planes, give us the news, play chess and football or compose music. Many factory jobs are performed by industrial robots nowadays. It has led to cheaper production of various goods, including automobiles and electronics. Industrial robots have little resemblance to a human being.
Artificial intelligence has successfully been used in a wide range of fields including medical diagnosis, stock trading, robot control, law, scientific discovery and toys. Industrial robots are also used for packaging of manufactured goods, transporting goods around warehouses or hospitals or removing tiny electronic components with great accuracy, speed and reliability. Robots can move around, sense and manipulate their environment, predict the actions of others and exhibit intelligent behavior. Scientists are interested in designing robots that resemble a human.
Are robots our best friends or are they dangerous? It is still very difficult to answer this question. Some futurists believe that artificial intelligence will fundamentally transform society. Ray Kurzweil has calculated that desktop computers will have had the same processing power as human brains by the year 2029, and that by 2045 artificial intelligence will have reached a point where it is able to improve itself. Other futurists and science fiction writers have predicted that human beings and machines will merge into powerful cyborgs – humans with significant mechanical enhancements. Many people fear that highly intelligent robots may take over and destroy the human race. There are a lot of books and films about people losing control over clever machines which begin to kill their creators. But maybe it is early to worry as robots are still clumsy and not very intelligent.
But of course there are some reasons to worry about robots. The use of robots in industry leads to unemployment as many jobs are performed by machines. Besides industrial robots can be dangerous and cause harm to human workers. So much attention must be paid to security.
There are a number of competitions and prizes to promote research in artificial intelligence. Many large companies have created robots which can perform specific functions in the manner of a man. Here are some of them:
ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) is a humanoid robot created by Honda Motor Company. The robot is 130 cm tall and weighs 54 kilograms. It can walk or run on two feet at speeds up to 6 km/h. The robot can perform various functions. ASIMO can follow the movements of people with its camera, follow a person, or greet a person when he or she approaches. ASIMO can also recognize when a person offers him a handshake and other people’s movements. The robot can sense the environment and avoids hitting people and other objects. It can respond to its name, face people when being spoken to, and recognize sudden, unusual sounds. ASIMO is also able to respond to questions, either by a brief nod, a shake of the head or a verbal answer. The robot has the ability to recognize 10 different faces. By accessing information via the Internet, ASIMO can provide news and useful information.
Wakamaru is a Japanese domestic robot made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The robot has been created to provide companionship to elderly and disabled people and to make their life easier. The robot is yellow, lm tall, and weighs 30 kilograms. Wakamaru can connect to the Internet, and has limited speech and speech recognition abilities. It can say, ‘Welcome back!’, ‘Let me search the Internet’ and other simple phrases. The functions it can perform include reminding the user to take medicine on time, and calling for help if it suspects something is wrong. When its batteries run out, Wakamaru recharges itself.
Hitachi created its second humanoid robot EMIEW2 in 2008. EMIEW2 weighs 13kg and can move on wheels as well as two legs. The robot is 80cm tall, a height for looking over desk tops. It has 14 microphones which enable it to recognize human voice and sounds. The robot can distinguish voices even when three people are speaking at the same time and it can recognize voices spoken as far as 2m away.
Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of Korea has developed a robot with four human senses such as seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling. POMI (Penguin rObot for Multimodal Interaction) can move the eyebrow, eye lid, eye ball and lips. It also uses various colors to show face expressions. POMI has two kinds of built-in scent sprays to express happiness, sadness, and joy. It also has a heartbeat device which makes people feel like the robot’s heart really beats up when they put the hands on the left chest of the robot. It also can talk to people through a built-in speaker.
1. Complete each sentence (A-H) with one of the endings (1-8): A. There are more and more jobs which humans leave to robots such as
B. Computers can perform a lot of functions: they can
C. Artificial intelligence has successfully been used in a wide range of fields including
D. Industrial robots are also used for
E. Robots can
F. Some futurists believe that artificial intelligence will
G. Other futurists and science fiction writers have predicted that
H. The use of robots in industry leads to
1. medical diagnosis, stock trading, robot control, law, scientific discovery and toys.
2. fundamentally transform society.
3. packaging of manufactured goods, transporting goods around warehouses or hospitals or removing tiny electronic components.
4. exploring another planet, defusing bombs, exploring inside a volcano or just doing boring household chores like cleaning.
5. human beings and machines will merge into powerful cyborgs.
6. control cars and planes, give us the news, play chess and football or compose music.
7. unemployment as many jobs are performed by machines.
8. move around, sense and manipulate their environment, predict the actions of others and exhibit intelligent behavior.
2. Give the definitions of the following words – artificial intelligence (AI)
3. Answer the questions 1) Why do people make robots?
2) Why do some people believe that robots can be dangerous?
3) What are the real reasons to worry about robots?
4) Axe there any limits to how intelligent machines can be?
5) What is the difference between human intelligence and artificial intelligence?
6) Can a machine have human feelings? Why?
7) What may happen if humans hand over important decisions to machines?
8) What science fiction books and films about robots do you know? What role do robots play in people’s life in these books or films?
9) What is your personal attitude to robots?
10) Would you like to have a domestic robot? Why?
4. Fill in the table The reasons to trust robots………..
The reasons to mistrust robots………
5. Read the quotations below. Choose any statement and comment on it – ‘The sad thing about artificial intelligence is that it lacks artifice and therefore intelligence.’ (Jean Baudrillard)
– ‘Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower.’ (Alan Kay)
– ‘No computer has ever been designed that is ever aware of what it’s doing; but most of the time, we aren ‘t either.’ (Marvin Minsky)
– ‘Man has made many machines, complex and cunning, but which of them indeed rivals the workings of his heart?’ (Pablo Casals)
– ‘The greatest task before civilization at present is to make machines what they ought to be, the slaves, instead of the masters of men.’ (Henry Ellis)
– ‘As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.’ (Ernst Fischer)
– ‘The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.’ (B. F. Skinner)
Read Ray Kurzweil’s predictions once again. Say if you agree with them. Make up a list of your own predictions.
A. There are a lot of books, films, cartoons and comic books about robots, androids and cyborgs. Read the synopses of the following films. Answer the questions below.
In 2035 humanoid robots have become common. They are considered to be absolutely safe as the Three Laws are integrated into their minds:
1. A robot may not harm a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
NS-5s are new robots with an uplink to V. I. K. I. (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), allowing them to receive updates wirelessly. But there is a robot which greatly differs from others. Its creator has named it Sonny. The robot is unique as it can display emotions, experience dreams, keep secrets and disobey the Three Laws. Sonny has been created without an uplink to VI. K. I. that is why when other robots revolt against humans and attack them Sonny helps people destroy VI. K. I. At the end of the film Sonny gets freedom and becomes the main characters’ friend.
The Terminator is a cyborg assassin. It is very strong, has no emotions and feels no pain. The robot has been sent to the past to prevent a human resistance against the machines in the year 2029. It has a mission to kill and nothing can stop the Terminator to accomplish it. The robot is indistinguishable from humans as it is covered with living tissue. It has been invented by highly intelligent robots which have the aim to take over and destroy the human race. So the Terminator is very dangerous as it is programmed to kill mercilessly. Fortunately at the end of the film the robot is destroyed.
WALL-E is a robot which has been designed to clean up a polluted Earth. WALL-E has been performing its duties for several centuries and after many years of prolonged activation it has evolved and become more human-like. WALL-E is fond of collecting interesting knick-knacks which it finds among the rubbish. The robot has made friends with a cockroach. It often watches an old videotape of Hello, Dolly! and learns about human emotions including love. WALL-E falls in love with another robot named EVE which is cold and indifferent at first but warms up to WALL-E a little later. Thanks to WALL-E’s brave and adventurous nature people return to Earth.
l) What are the relations between robots and humans in these films? Are clever machines people’s friends/servants/exterminators?
2) What adjectives can you choose to characterize the robots from each film (strong, funny, adventurous, powerful, dangerous, harmless, helpful, merciless, clumsy etc.)?
3) When do the robots begin to experience human feelings? Why?
4) What is the main idea of each film?
B. Read the text ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and say if machines can be as clever as humans.