Artificial Intelligence: A Pathbreaking Innovation

In the 21st century, technology has transcended all limits, and new inventions are being made at a tremendously fast pace. It is extremely difficult to believe that the first mobile phone was introduced not long back, in 1973. Looking at the scientific development that the world has achieved only makes us wonder in awe. Although we as a generation have more or less been brought up in a tech-oriented world, it is the generation above ours that has actually witnessed the technological transformation that the world has undergone in the past 45-50 years. And yet, science unravels new surprises and undiscovered realms with every passing day. The opportunities of exploiting technology are indeed limitless.

Out of all the major developments in the field of science and technology being made today, one of the most striking is the inception of Artificial Intelligence. Although the term has come into frequent use only recently, it was coined as early as in 1956. Historically, it started off as an attempt made by philosophers to perceive human thinking in the framework of a ‘system’. Although science and philosophy are generally regarded as disparate fields of study, Oxford University physicist, David Deutsch wrote an article on how he believes that philosophy is the key to achieving artificial general intelligence. In simple terms, Artificial Intelligence is a branch of science that deals with imbuing machines with intelligence, thereby trying to emulate a human being’s thought processing system and reasoning facilities.

It began with the invention of computers for solving basic problems without human interference, but over the years, it has developed magnanimously, being used in a plethora of fields like finance, agriculture, cyber security etc. In today’s world, using Google Maps to find our way to some place, having a Google Assistant or a Siri to help us with some information, asking an Alexa or a Google Home to play music is so prevalent, but to think of it, isn’t it amazing to actually ‘talk’ to a machine, which not only carries out your orders, but might actually be able to engage in a casual conversation with you?

In this context, it would be unfair to not mention the fact that scientists have even developed humanoid robots such as Sophia and Furhat, which can display over fifty facial expressions and interact with humans. Sophia was developed by a Hong Kong based company called Hanson Robotics. Having been activated in 2015, she (and not it) became the first robot to receive bonafide citizenship of Saudi Arabia. She has been covered by media across the globe and has even made appearances in talk shows, such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Now, one cannot help but wonder how a so-called robot is almost being given the status of a legitimate person. She even went to the extent of saying in one of her interviews that robots will take over humankind. The most recent humanoid robot to be developed is Furhat, designed by a Stockholm based start-up, called Furhat Robotics. This one is capable of displaying facial expressions and emotions on a customizable face. Furhat can modify itself to become male or female, old or young, goofy or serious, based on the other person’s requirements.

It is mind blowing yet somewhat frightening to see such developments taking place. While people all over the world are applauding these inventions, there are others who possess a more fatalistic outlook. According to Elon Musk, Artificial Intelligence may prove to be terrible or great, but it will not be able to be controlled. Some television series have been based on such themes too. Shows like ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Westworld’ portray a morbid scenario of the over-expansion of technological advances, indicating a takeover of the world by robots, if they are not controlled in time.

In this regard, I remember coming up with a theory once– what if we are robots too? What if what we call humankind today is the creation of an erstwhile race, which was taken over by us, and maybe soon enough, we might receive the same fate. To think of it, we call the human body a machine, so it could be possible that we were indeed robots, infused with emotions and feelings and here we are, on the brink of being replaced yet again by a new species. Well, I’m clearly defying Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution here, but this is just a passing contemplation. It is highly unlikely that this is possible, but let’s just call it food for thought.

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