Many academic institutions, companies and corporations worldwide
are involved in artificial intelligence research. While some focus
exclusively on the hardware aspect of robotic machinery and androids
- such as the prosthetics involved in creating elbow and knee joints
and the artificial intelligence needed to control these, for example, others
are focused on the workings of the artificial mind, creating
deductive reasoning and other complex issues that mimic our own brain and
our physical neural network.
Hardware issues of artificial intelligence can be the control of
a body, as in the case of an intelligent, humanoid, robot. But also
the hard-wiring of a simulated brain, as is the case with Asimov's "positronic"
brain, or the brain of "Data", the android in the Star Trek
Software issues can involve logic, action-reaction, response,
speech and visual recognition tasks and of course the programming
languages needed to write these programs.
Designing and creating a neural network similar to our own is one
of the most difficult aspects of creating an artificial
intelligence (see also Neural Networks,
Nanotechnology and Robotics). This approach requires both hardware
and software or wetware, also known as biological hardware.
The human neural network is a vastly complex development spanning
millions of years of biological evolution with the core going back
maybe a billion years or more, to the very first "life"
Most parts of this network are autonomous and require no
conscious thought. If we had to consciously tell our bodies to breathe air, pump
blood or instruct muscles to contract or relax for movement and
other bodily functions, we wouldn't be here. It would be impossible.
Thus much of our functioning is subconscious and autonomous, with
only our reasoning mind, and our "self", whatever that may be, in
need of constant attention.
Designing an artificial intelligence of this complexity is not
possible with our current technological knowledge and we may never
achieve anything closely resembling it. (Unless, of course, we
design intelligent machines to do it for us.)
Do we need artificial intelligence?
With a growing world population, many of which are unemployed and
uneducated, do we really need artificial intelligences that cost
billions to research and to build? Wouldn't it be better to spend
all that money on developing the human condition instead?
The simple answer would be Yes. In order to create a more level
playing field for humanity we really need to educate those that lack
education and provide positive employment for them. With all that
brain power available who needs artificial intelligences. But that
is easier said than done.
Until we have a unified world government that would allocate
resources on a more equal scale it doesn't seem likely. Countries
with the highest unemployment and lowest educational level generally
suffer from inept and corrupt governments, and under current
international agreements, there is no interference in internal
The best we can do is let advanced nations develop advanced
technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and use these
developments at some future time to aid our poorer fellow humans.
So perhaps we don't need artificial intelligence but it may
provide the way to a better future for all of us.
See also: Neural Networks,
Nanotechnology and Robotics.