By Artificial Intelligence (AI) we generally understand machine
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.
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
concerning robots and android humanoids.)
The Personal Satellite
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)
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
(See Utopia: Education.)