Our lives today are the stuff that science fiction movies were made of, perhaps, a decade or two ago. With virtual assistants, driverless cars, hoverboards, and missions to Mars, devices that come alive at the sound of your voice and perform your every bidding, technology is nothing short of a fantastical miracle.
Our smart devices are only getting smarter. Just look around: devices are getting faster, more accurate. Billions of bytes of data can be broken down into meaningful insights in a matter of seconds. Computers can now respond to human speech. Siri could give some of our contemporary stand-up comics a run for their money with her dry wit. We can already create small models thanks to 3D printing technology; perhaps, tomorrow we would be mass manufacturing everything from medicines to garments thanks to the same tech. Software has already conquered automobiles, and it may not be much longer before they learn how to perform other more complex tasks with ease.
Just as in real life, what makes our computers and mobiles and other devices ‘smart’ is intelligence. Artificial Intelligence or AI, is quite apt in describing the phenomenon when machines start to imitate the human mind; when they begin demonstrating learning, responsiveness and problem solving. When your phone recognizes your voice command to search for the newest restaurants near you and throws up a plausible list of options, that’s artificial intelligence at play. Siri offering up ideas for your Halloween costume or a drone that navigates overhead scanning the geography below — all fuelled and driven by artificial intelligence.
In the world of technology, the applications of artificial intelligence are only growing, giving rise to hopes for a connected future. AI could mean higher productivity and efficiency, better applications in planning, production, security and development, leading to an overall better quality of life. Perhaps, even world peace?
“The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge,” Stephen Hawking noted earlier this year. “We cannot predict what we might achieve when our own minds are amplified by AI. Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one — industrialization. And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization.”
Not before adding though that, artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”.
All this even as machines are beating humans at games of Go and Chess, and some technologists claim to have achieved voice recognition at par with humans.