The problem of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics is not a simple question. Furthermore, it is hard to make any predictions on this topic, because it has many possible development scenarios. According to the reviewed in the course of research sources, scientists and disciplines do not have a common opinion on studying the process of AI and robotics progress (“Vernor Vinge on Singularity”). Some people argue that humanity will be conquered by its own creation, another say that our world is moving forward to the Golden Era. In this paper, these opinions will be studied in parallel with an issue of "Singularity". This name represents most of the scientific and non-scientific opinions about the future of humankind. Consequently, this word must be defined in order to give clearance to the subject. Firstly, the term “Singularity” was examined and defined in the article by Vernor Vinge in 1993. Though an author of the article was a representative of his epoch, his thoughts and studies were directed to the future and generalized some of already existing opinions on the topic of intelligent machines. In this article, “Singularity” is defined as a result of increasing progress in the branch of computer development. According to the author, this result is inevitable, and when it is going to happen is only a question of time (“Vernor Vinge on Singularity”). However, this article was written and presented ten years ago. Nowadays, some of its aspects are not topical, and we must face a need of studying some of the more up-to-date sources of information. As an example and a start-up base, we can provide Ray Kurzweil’s site, which is devoted to up-to-the-minute news in the sphere of computer technologies and disciplines that are connected with it. Also, this site contains an archive of books and articles by different authors on the same topic.
It is hard to imagine everyday life without a computer. In most of the civilized countries, these machines are used in every branch of activity: study, work, communication, news, free time, etc. People are beginning to use computers in every aspect of their life. If somebody does not use a thinking machine, than he stands apart from the whole world and lives in some kind of isolation. This process grows exponentially every day leaving nobody apart. The hardest question to be answered is whether this process is good or bad. There are many different points of view on this subject. They largely depend on the author's life experience, political situation in his country, his religion and, especially, on how big influence the computer has in his life. From my point of view, the progress, which is used for the wellbeing of humanity, cannot be defined as a regressive factor. Of course, it gives a floor for the polemics on the topic of good and evil in our life. This topic will not be raised, because each person has his/her own definitions of positive and negative in daily life. This paper will observe the topic in the scale of the entire world.
However, firstly, it is important to note that the process of “Singularity” became more observant in our daily life than it was a decade ago (“Singularity Q&A”). As it was mentioned, it is hard to imagine any part of our life without computers. A special progress was achieved in medicine and science. The most perspective branch of science where we can expect the breakthrough is nanotechnology. According to many sources, this aspect of science will be the next stage in the world progress. Nanotechnology can take part in every aspect of our daily life and has a vast field of usage. Studying various progress scenarios, there were found two most obvious and possible of them. The first is called “The Golden Era”. It is based on the theory that in the nearest two or three decades, the civilization will achieve the edge of scientific threshold. Of course, this event can have different results; however, only a positive side of the question will be considered now. In addition to the hard-duty computer creation, people will learn how to use AI and robotics more efficiently in medicine, production, communication, and other aspects of life. As a result, humanity will face a need to create a global network, which will unite every existing being. As for the robots, they will be represented mostly in medicine and production facilities. Moreover, the “Golden Era” theory states that the Earth will be free of war and all scientific achievements will be used with peaceful purposes only. In counterbalance to the utopia, there is a theory that people will create an intelligent computer that will excel the abilities of the human brain. The main postulate of this hypothesis is human degradation because of creating a thinking machine. This postulate has become a main topic for the series of fantasy books and a core belief for many religious and conservative people. From my point of view, the first theory is closer to reality than the second. It is a commonly known fact that computers submit only to the logic and programming. Any logic postulate that computer submits to is created by people, so it is more likely that thinking machines will be a support instrument that would help people to proceed with their activities better and faster. Vernor Vinge called this process “Intelligence Amplification” (“Vernor Vinge on Singularity”). According to the latest news, modern and the most powerful computers and robots have neither been used in any military actions nor made any damage to people. Of course, there is a list of destructive activities brought by the Internet. Nowadays, those problems are:
- Video games, especially online. According to sociological and medical surveys, if a person spends much time in the virtual world, it changes comprehension of the real world.
- Social networks. According to the sociological inquires, they are taking a lion’s loan of free time and changing person’s positioning in the real world. It is always easy to be cool behind the screen, writing words that in real life will be required to be proved by actions.
- Influence on children. It is a well-known medical fact that children comprehend every piece of outsource activity, because they do not have their own life experience. In the developed countries, this problem is already in the process of resolving on the governmental level. For example, the projects SOPA and PIPA, which failed, were the first real attempts to interrupt the Internet information freedom. However, governments still cannot control the Internet and destructive information (e.g. violence video scenes, pornography, different types of online shows that provide nothing but warped life viewpoint, etc).
Of course, these points are only opening the list of negative aspects of Internet, but they are certainly the most important ones. On the other hand, the provided information shows that all the problems depend only on an individual. Computer is only a machine that can serve different purposes. It is up to people whether to use it for self-destruction or for self-development.
Returning to the topic of AI and robotics, it can be noted that Vernor Vinger’s theory about “Intelligence Amplification” proves to be correct. Indeed, people can create a computer that will work faster and more productive than a human brain. Except that, people can use it only for their purposes. The machine will do only what it is programmed to do. Internet is just a beginning phase of “Singularity”, but it already has proved that only people can decide how to use it. There is a rule in economics: “Demand generates offer”. This rule is appropriate for any occasion in life and extremely applicable for the future development of AI. Therefore, it can be concluded that humanity is moving forward to the creation of AI and robots, but if we remember that our creations are only programmed machines, there will be no harm done to people. For instance, there is another fact, which importance cannot be denied. Humanity does not have any strict regulations on the computers. From my point of view, there can be no such rules, because it is impossible to create them. According to the Moore’s Law, computer power increases exponentially, so it is hard to regulate constantly changing process. It will take a long time for the new laws to bypass the bureaucracy system; so, when the laws become legitimate, they become pointless. According to the above, the responsibility for the powerful computers usage will lie on the shoulders of each individual. Consequently, it is more important to concentrate on social regulations to implant people the responsibility for their actions. Furthermore, a number of ethical questions appear while discussing the topic of robots. If people create robots, whose look will not differ from the human, but their abilities will be much higher, would it be ethically right to call such creation a human? Firstly, it is important to remember that humanity is moving forward to the use of robots in the way that differs from the one described in fantasy books. According to Ray Kurzweil, people will use robots in a way that will help them to become stronger, healthier, etc. Probably, this is the most possible development scenario. Nowadays, an important place is taken by nanotechnology. According to National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), “Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering” (“What is nanotechnology”). The size of a robot, created with the use of nanotechnology can be no more than a size of blood cell. It removes the need to create a robot or computer that will overcome physical and mental abilities of humankind if people can become better than they are. Also, theoretically, the use of nanorobots opens a road to immortality. In his interview on the topic of “Singularity”, Kurzweil explained the possibility of removing dead cells from the human body and replacing them with new ones with the help of those robots. Hypothetically, this process can be eternal, so people may become renewable organisms that would never die ( "Singularity Q&A."). However, these are only theoretical ways of our future. In the present days, nanotechnology is used mostly in computer creation. As an up-to-date example, we can provide an article about the process of building basic computer using nanotubes. To cut a long story short, Stanford engineers have designed a new material to use instead of silicon. Though the creation of this computer is still in process, the Stanford representative assured that this project will not be stopped, and the computer market will present new computers in a few years.
Summarizing all the information above, we can state that the topic of AI and robotics is still a vast field for studying in many scientific circles. Also, as a generalized prediction for AI and robotics development, it would be proper to say that humanity is moving forward to making itself better. The question of "Singularity” is still unresolved. However, it is a right statement that there have become fewer borders in communication between people from all over the world. As for ethical, legal, and social aspects of AI and robotics, there are only theories, because the process of development still did not get to the final point. Another important fact is that computer science can help people to become better not only physically, but also mentally. As it was mentioned, computers can provide great opportunities, but the responsibility for the result of using them is on our shoulders. From my point of view, it is too early to make any statements on this topic, because all of the possible developing scenarios are only theories. On the other hand, it is clear that humanity can lead itself either to prosperity or to chaos. Only well-thought and controlled process of studying can help to avoid any negative consequences of the technological progress. Hopefully, robots with a perfect AI will never conquer the Earth except for the case when people can destroy themselves with their greed, longing for power, and seeing no limits in what they receive. Our future depends on every individual existing on the planet.
- "A first: Stanford engineers build basic computer using carbon nanotubes” kurzweilai.net. KurzweilAINetwork, 26 Sept. 2013 Web. 1 Oct 2013.
- “What is Nanotechnology” nano.gov. National Nanotechnology Initiative N.d. Web. 1 Oct 2013.
- A Review of the Manufacturing-Related Programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Fiscal Year 2012. Summary. nap.edu. 2012. Web. 1 Oct 2013.
- Chiang E., Wrightson P. “Intelligent Human-Machine Collaboration: Summary Of a Workshop". nap.edu. The National Academies (2012). Web. 1 Oct 2013.
- Kurzweil, Ray. "Singularity Q&A." kurzweilai.net. KurzweilAINetwork, 9 Dec 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2013.
- Turing, A.M. "Computing machinery and intelligence." loebner.net. Mind, 1950. Web. 1 Oct 2013.
- Vinge, Vernor. "Vernor Vinge on Singularity." mindstalk.net. Department of Mathematical SciencesSan DiegoStateUniversity, 1993. Web. 1 Oct 2013.