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I(Robot) Think Therfore I Am

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By anmiller32
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Introduction Questions of our future have often been raised about our ability to share this world with what is known as “Artificial Intelligence.” Will they really make our lives easier or will they put the human race completely out of work? Will they ever become smart enough to learn and think for themselves or is it possible that they’ll become “too smart” and one day and take over the world as we know it? Many pieces of literature have been written, and many movies have been released, prophesying the demise of the human race and our damned fate into slavery to the very machines that we’ve created. Though there is a very thin line between the world of science fiction and the presence of science in “our world”, there are a lot of fears that are conceived due to speculations of the unknown and not enough hope in all of the things that we do know! The idea that humans are imperfect and have made mistakes consistently since the beginning of time, of course, isn’t comforting when considering that should we succumb to this ill fate it will be because of our own doing. However, the proven ability of our race being capable of recognizing, analyzing, correcting and improving upon our mistakes is exactly what has gotten us this far. From wars to medicine, from politics to parenting, sometimes we fail but eventually… we always succeed; so I wouldn’t be so quick to count us out of the game just yet.

AI: The Beginning

The word computer, in a nutshell, “refers to an object that can accept some input and produce some output” (Tyson & Crawford 1998-2012) and due to an installed microprocessor, computers are able to compute calculations in the blink of an eye. But is the act of storing and memorizing specific “known” information and already processed formulas truly worthy of the title of “Intelligence” or is intellect actually a lot more? Will the computer’s ability to accept “some” information, ever be a match for the super-computer known as the Human Brain? In the early 1950’s a man by the name of Norbert Weiner was one of the first people to make the link between human and machine intelligence with his observation on the principle of the feedback theory. “The most familiar example of feedback theory is the thermostat: It controls the temperature of an environment by gathering the actual temperature of the house, comparing it to the desired temperature, and responding by turning the heat either up or down.” (“The History of Artificial Intelligence,” 1997) Using this theory Weiner theorized that all intelligent behavior was the result of feedback mechanisms and could possibly be simulated by machines (I feel that it is important to take notice to the phrases “all intelligent behavior” and “possibly” be simulated, which makes the idea of an artificial intelligence surpassing that of a human somewhat disputable). Throughout the years, because of this basic function, the evolutions of technology have spread like weeds across the planet and have taken over many everyday tasks to assist in the convenience of human activities.

AI Today Examples of all types of artificial intelligence which function with a more advanced form of the feedback theory, among other upgrades, are present everywhere in today’s society. GPS systems (which are a satellite based navigation system) are available in almost every new car that hits the market and the new iPhone 4 has a voice recognition that allows you to speak directly into the phone and will retrieve the information that you seek in a matter of seconds. But these are just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the elaborate forms of robotics that science has in store for the near future; and here are just a few:
1. ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) - ASIMO stands 4.26 feet tall, weighs 119lbs, has about an hour of battery life and can run up to 3.72 miles per hr. ASIMO can identify moving objects (through sensors) allowing it to greet people when they are near, move around stationary or moving objects, wave and shake hands if you greet it, has facial recognition to address people by name, can deliver coffee and a group of ASIMO robots can work together as a team. (ASIMO is still in the research and development phase)
2. Watson; IBM’s Deep Question and Answer (DQA) - This supercomputer has already stunned the world when it defeated two human beings on the game show Jeopardy. Watson’s technology will be used to sift through medical information and find the best treatments for illnesses.
3. Shared Control- Researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland have created a new wheelchair for quadriplegic patients that allow them to control mobility of the chair through thought. The technology requires that the user wear a skull cap that that translates brain signals into chair commands that allow them to move in the desired direction.
4. Nell- A computer database with over 500,000 facts is a never ending language learner that has been running nonstop since January 2010. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are hoping to teach a computer to understand the world by reading the web. The general idea is that it searches the web everyday extracting statements it believes to be true from texts and adds those beliefs to its database to improve its comprehension for when it goes back onto the web the next day.
Although quite impressive to say the least, these machines are still nowhere in the vicinity of exuding what is actual intelligence, real or artificial. I can imagine how if an army of ASIMO’s where downloaded with the technology of Nell, things could possibly get out of hand for us humans, however, even with all of this technology there is no logical reason to give up on the capabilities of your fellow man. “To some, the critical test of whether a machine is or is not a ‘brain’ would be whether it can or cannot ‘think’. But to the biologist the brain is not a thinking machine, it as an acting machine; it gets information and then it does something about it!” (Ashley 1948, pg.379)
Human Intelligence

Quoting an idea from revered scientist Charles Darwin, “Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long- continued slow process” (Darwin, C) Whether you believe in his theory of human evolution or not, the proven mental advancement of the human race, from the creation of the wheel to the Wright brothers first flight in an airplane, there is no dispute that we also get better with time. Although it may seem like a slow process, taking us millions of years to get where we are today, I feel as if people may be giving misplaced credit when they imply that the advancement of technology seems to have happened overnight when in fact it has been the humans ability to understand and create technology which proves that “we” are still evolving. Although there are no set ways to measure human intelligence because there are too many factors to take into account, the average IQ for America (and most educated countries) is about 100 and ranging to Hong Kong’s slightly higher average of 107. An IQ is “a number used to express the apparent relative intelligence of a person as: a. the ratio of the mental age (as reported on a standardized test) to the chronological age multiplied by 100 b. a score determined by one’s performance on a standardized intelligence test relative to the average performance of others of the same age 2. Proficiency and knowledge of a specified subject” (Merriam- Webster 2012) Although it is believed that the highest adult IQ cannot exceed 200, a man alive today by the name of Kim Ung- yong has a recorded IQ of 210. He was able to speak at six months of age and started university courses at age three!

IQ Standards
IQ Range Classification Percent Included
Genius or near Genius 140 and over 2.2
Very Superior Intelligence 120- 140 6.7
Superior Intelligence 110- 120 16.1
Normal or Average Intelligence 90- 110 50
Dullness 80- 90 16.1
Borderline Deficiency 70- 80 6.7
Definite feeble- mindedness Below 70 2.2
*chart info gathered from Terman and Wechsler
(I think it’s safe to say that with 75% of the population being of average or above average intelligence, we should be able to defend ourselves in crisis)

Although it is said that the human brain is like a sponge in its ability to soak up information (much like a computer) where some of the major differences lie, I would say, is within our imaginations, creativity, instinct, motivation, reasoning and compassion. Because these things mentioned have no limits to their capabilities and none of these things could ever be measured by a test, I’d be confident in my opinion that they certainly can never be duplicated by an inanimate object. “Human brains consist of a hundred billion neurons, each with connections to tens of thousands of other neurons. The number of possible connections among these neurons defies comprehension.” (Allen. J, 2009 pg.19) Admitting and accepting that we do not have any real understanding of our own intellect and potential should ease the tension, even just a little bit, when considering that we do know all of the inner workings and information stored within a computer. Even if the computer Watson was able to compete and win against two separate individuals in a game of stored knowledge, is it unbelievable to think that had he faced them both as a “team”, that collectively their knowledge would have surpassed this super computer and allowed them to win the game? Is it not possible that even after finally being perfected, should the ASIMO robots ever decide to get physically violent with humans, that there may be a student currently at the New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology whose imagination has already lead them to combine a multitude of fabrics that one day we’ll discover will block ASIMO’s sensors and makes us undetectable by them? Is it really going to take a genius, or maybe just common sense, to figure out that should Nell ever hold all of the known information of the world, draw up a conclusion of humans based on its filtered facts (which technically the machine doesn’t know for a fact if it has stored accurate information or not) and based on all of these composites it somehow sends a signal to all other robotics and they wage a war on humans, that our already known comprehension of how a computer virus works, we won’t be bright enough to at least try to get close enough to Nell and override this system; or at least stop disclosing all of our new information across the web, going back to good old fashioned pen and paper if need be to communicate with people all over the world in finding a way to triumph over the machines.


With everything covered there should be no dispute over the truth that no matter how much information one computer may hold the fact will always remain that the human race is unpredictable. A robot may be prepared for one to move to the left, right, forward, back, up or down, but should you decide to duck and weave then drop to the ground and flop like a fish, Artificial Intelligence won’t be able to handle these types of sudden variables and thus will have no response in how to handle the situation. Although one writer has said, “Though technology, however fantastic, is neutral. It is up to us to decide whether that dazzling new robot brain powers a caring hand, or a speedy fist highly accurate at throwing grenades” (Jones, G April 2007) there is no question that someday, someone with all the wrong intentions may purposely make a way where things head in a negative direction for our species. But the proven ability of our race being capable of recognizing, analyzing, correcting and improving upon our mistakes is exactly what has gotten us this far, and will continue our reign as supreme being on this planet for millions of years into forever in the future.


Tyson, Jeff & Crawford, Stephanie. How PC’s Work. 1998-2012 HowStuffWorksInc.
“The History of Intelligence” An Introduction to the Science of Artificial Intelligence June 1997
Pickering, A. (April 2010) Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of another Future Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press
Huxley, T (1996) the Theory of Evolution, Charles Darwin: Quotes from Charles Darwin (1809- 1882) on Evolution, Natural Selection, Science, Humanity, God & Religion Windsor Publications
IQ. 2012 in Merriam- Retrieved May 13, 2012 from
Allen, John S. (10/2009 pg. 19) Lives of the Brain: Human Evolution and the Organ of the Mind
Harvard University Press
Jones, G April 25, 2007 the Guardian Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
Pictures by Ian, P (Feb. 27, 2011) Tech of the Future, Today: Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence
Chart information gathered from…...

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