Artificial intelligence - brains by design PDF Print E-mail
Technology - Artificial intelligence

Brains by design

By Artificial Intelligence (AI) we generally understand machine intelligence.

But this is really only a relative definition. Taken from a broader point of view and looking at the people we see on television or in our daily lives, for example, we can easily conclude that the intelligence they possess is surely just as artificial as that of a machine. Nothing original comes out and there seems to be very little self awareness.

However, despite the robotic behavior of some humans, on this page we are referring to man made, designed intelligence. And, compared to our biologically evolved intelligence, we use the adjective "artificial" to describe machine intelligence.

The next logical question is "Where do we want to go with artificial intelligence and for which purposes?" Putting aside the philosophical and social implications artificially intelligent machines might cause, we can look at the practical side of building machines with designed intelligence.

Practical uses

One practical use of artificial intelligence is space exploration. Building intelligent robots to explore space for us has big advantages. As machines they are more resistant to hostile environments such as interplanetary space itself and other planetary atmospheres incompatible with Earth life.

Robots can construct bases in preparation of human occupancy. They can mine minerals, drill for resources and fuel, for example. In short, they can go places where humans have difficulty. And this includes areas of our own planet where we, as humans, have difficulty going, for example, deep ocean exploration. (See also:  Neural Networks, Nanotechnology and Robotics.)

Endowing these machines with a designed intelligence able to recognize, analyze and make decisions to a certain extent and geared to a specific purpose is simply a practical application of artificial intelligence and has little to do with moral or ethical issues. It is when we want to make machines that look and think like us - android robots - that these issues arise. (See Ethical issues concerning robots and android humanoids.)


NASA's Personal Satellite Assistant - PSA
The Personal Satellite Assistant. This 15.2 cm (6 in.) robot will fly autonomously around the shuttle or space station, floating effortlessly in orbital free fall and propelling itself with 6 small ducted fans, sampling air and performing other tasks. (c) NASA.


The future of artificial intelligence

While the debate rages on whether we need artificial intelligences and robots, for practical purposes I say we do. Let them be the mine workers both on Earth and in space. Let them be the manufacturers of our goods, work in hazardous areas and let them clean up behind us, as we seem to do a very poor job in doing these activities ourselves.

With the help of artificial intelligences we can do a lot more than we are doing now, bypassing, or rather making human social issues regarding employment and security, an unnecessary time and resource consuming distraction and delay.

The argument that robots will take away jobs from humans is valid, up to a point. It was said that computers would do the same, and it has. But, as in the computer business, it has also created millions of (better-paid) jobs. The key here is education.

(See Utopia: Education.)

Definitions of artificial intelligence

1. Artificial Intelligence - AI
Function: noun Date: 1956

1 : the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior

2 : a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers. 
Source: Merriam Webster

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)'s Mars Sojourner 2.
(c) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) - Mars Sojourner 2.

2. Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. - Artificial Intelligence quotations
3. Webopedia - artificial intelligence

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