I compute, therefore I am?

December 20, 2010

“With the increasingly important role of intelligent machines in all phases of our lives–military, medical, economic and financial, political–it is odd to keep reading articles with titles such as Whatever Happened to Artificial Intelligence? This is a phenomenon that Turing had predicted: that machine intelligence would become so pervasive, so comfortable, and so well integrated into our information-based economy that people would fail even to notice it.” -Ray Kurzweil


Artificial Intelligence

n. Abbr. AI

1. The ability of a computer or other machine to perform those activities that are normally thought to require intelligence.

2. The branch of computer science concerned with the development of machines having this ability.


Currently most people don’t realize the huge impact that AI (artificial intelligence) has on our society. Everything from managing your stock portfolio, flying planes, managing military and business logistics, weather forecasting, speech recognition software, and a host of others, AI is integral to our civilization.

In the future AI will be able to control our cars, come up with new inventions, talk seamlessly with humans, and pretty much do any task a human can do but faster and more effectively. Just as today we wonder how we got along without the internet and cell phones, those living in the future will be astonished how those in the past got along without advanced AI.

Meet Milo, the world’s smartest commercial AI system




1. A mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance.

2. A machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control.

3. A person who works mechanically without original thought, especially one who responds automatically to the commands of others.


Robots have been featured in sci-fi books and movies for centuries and yet only recently have they begun to become an integral part of our society. With manufacturing plants becoming nearly fully automated, robots that can sweep your floors and mow your lawn, and restaurants fully manned by robots, we are beginning to witness the emergence of wide spread use of robots in our everyday life. As robots get smarter and more adaptable they will be able to do a wider range of tasks. Soon your McDonald’s will be fully automated, then all IT support will be done by a robot, then it will become rare to find a restaurant that will have human waiters or chefs, and soon it will become nearly impossible to find humans doing any monotonous or dangerous tasks.


These breakthroughs in technology will bring amazing benefits, but providing enormous challenges.  Imagine humans being free from farming in the hot sun doing back breaking work, flipping burgers for 6 hours at a time, doing dangerous construction work, or answering calls about someone not understanding how to turn on their computer. I encourage people to type robot into the YouTube search engine and watch what technology is out there today.

On the other hand, technological unemployment will become rampant. The advances in technology will be faster than anyone can be retrained for jobs that will not be able to become automated. This will provide extremely difficult challenges for our economic institution to deal with. More information can be found here about technological unemployment.

Other challenges include fully automated war. How will wars be fought when the value of the human life is more than the costs of a robot solider? What, if any, role will humans take in the wars of the future?

The combination of AI and robotics will bring a radical shift to the way our society operates. We will soon see robots that will be similar to WALL-E, C-3PO, the robots from i-robot, cylons from Battle Star Galactica, the terminator, and a host of other designs and purpose built robots. They will be in our houses, at our work, and at all other places in between.

In what ways will robots with artificial intelligence impact our society?



-Will robots have civil rights?

-Will humans be able to marry robots, will people want to?

-Will they take the place of human to human interactions?

-Will robots become self-aware?

-How will people respond when robots have the intelligence and the exterior parts to be indistinguishable from humans?

-Will we implant the three laws of robotics made by Issac Asimov in 1942 to prevent robots from hurting humans?

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey any 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.


Comment on other impacts that you think robotics and AI will have on our society

“Unless mankind redesigns itself by changing our DNA through altering our genetic makeup, computer-generated robots will take over our world.” – Stephen Hawking

One Response to “I compute, therefore I am?”

  1. johnnormal said

    Well, it is also possible that the machines might still keep us as pets. I would not mind so bad, as long as I don’t have to go outside to pee.

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