As automation technologies such as machine learning and robotics play an increasingly great role in everyday life, their potential effect on the workplace has, unsurprisingly, become a major focus of research and public concern. The discussion tends toward a Manichean guessing game: which jobs will or won’t be replaced by machines?
Artificial intelligence (AI) research has gained major headways over the past few decades. Relevant technologies have grown from being just lab myths to mass market products. Some computing technologies are sophisticated enough to replace human minds and solve real world problems. Regardless of the professional systems widely adopted in areas such as national defence, finance and medicine, search engines, social networks and apps on smart phones are the real vehicles that have allowed the public to feel the massive power of AI. Whether it is for academy or industry, AI talents detected that this renaissance would bring a different historic meaning to the technology. With Google, Baidu and other tech giants joining the ranks, the public has given different interpretations of AI from their own perspectives, with some of them being off track. Which stage has AI technology reached? Is the arrival of machine intelligence a blessing or a curse?
Culture is the essential catalyst of intelligence and an AI without the capability to interact culturally would be nothing more than an academic curiosity. However, culture can not be hand coded into a machine; it must be the result of a learning process.
Robots will soon be able to read texts for us, engage in conversations, clean our windows, deliver packets and parcels, prepare our pill-boxes and even help us get back on our feet should we fall, or have difficulty just getting up. We had them first in the military sector, then carrying out industrial chores, now we see a new generation coming, prepared to do household chores, maintenance work, leisure activities or engage in educational activities. Whether they be macro-, or nano-, humanoid or dronoid, these robots are about to become our future companions. So, where do we stand today?
Robots are machines capable of endlessly repeating the same operation, without fatigue or making mistakes. With such qualities, they are now quietly moving into many areas of our socio-economic world, replacing human operators deemed less reliable and more expensive. Medicine, especially surgery, is a prime demand field for robots. The latter can carry out very precise operations, in a cluttered environment, reducing the risks for both the surgeon and the patient.
In recent years, the massive and controversial use of drones in U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has fueled an intense debate. But this controversy is only the tip of the iceberg: the development of standalone and remote-controlled machines is but the prelude to the rise of military robotics, a field that involves all industries. It is already used in logistics, communications and training, with expected effects on number of staff and productivity. The gradual integration of robotics will affect the safety of operational troops and combat on the battlefield. It will also raise many ethical questions.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and expert systems are less trendy in 2014 than they were back in 1974 but since that time they have never ceased developing and the processing power of today's computers opens ever wider prospects. In the same way that robots have changed factories, the rapid advent of expert systems has changed numerous skilled office workers' jobs. Some have been transformed, others destroyed. What is at stake is the very existence of our middle-classes, the core of modern economies. But the final word here is not written on the wall yet, inasmuch as the concept of expertise is also changing very rapidly.
As well as androids they are our self-guided vacuum-cleaners, our GPS, an automated line on the Paris metro linking two of the city's main underground stations, Internet search engines… From mechanized figurines to the first robot arm, a brief journey through a history 3000 years in the making.