The Three Laws of Robotics — Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.
1. First Law — A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. Second Law — A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. Third Law — A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Ever since Isaac Asimov penned down these fictional rules governing the behavior of intelligent robots — in 1942 — humanity has become fixated with the idea of making intelligent machines. After British mathematician Alan Turing devised the Turing Test as a benchmark for machines to be considered sufficiently smart, the term artificial intelligence was coined in 1956 at a summer conference in Dartmouth University, USA for the first time. Prominent scientists and researchers debated the best approaches to creating AI, favoring one that begins by teaching a computer the rules governing human behavior — using reason and logic to process available information.
There was plenty of hype and excitement about AI and several countries started funding research as well. Two decades in, the progress made did not deliver on the initial enthusiasm or have a major real-world implementation. Millions had been spent with nothing to show for it, and the promise of AI failed to become anything more substantial than programs learning to play chess and checkers. Funding for AI research was cut down heavily, and we had what was called an AI Winter which stalled further breakthroughs for several years.
Programmers then focused on smaller specialized tasks for AI to learn to solve. The reduced scale of ambition brought success back to the field. Researchers stopped trying to build artificial general intelligence that would implement human learning techniques and focused on solving particular problems. In 1997, for example, IBM supercomputer Deep Blue played and won against the then world chess champion Gary Kasparov. The achievement was still met with caution, as it showcased success only in a highly specialized problem with clear rules using more or less just a smart search algorithm.
The turn of the century changed the AI status quo for the better. A fundamental shift in approach was brought in that moved away from pre-programming a computer with rules of intelligent behavior, to training a computer to recognize patterns and relationships in data — machine learning. Taking inspiration from the latest research in human cognition and functioning of the brain, neural network algorithms were developed which used several ‘nodes’ that process information similar to how neurons do. These networks have multiple layers of nodes (deep nodes and surface nodes) for different complexities, hence the term deep learning.
Different types of machine learning approaches were developed at this time:
Supervised Learning uses training data which is correctly labeled to teach relationships between given input variables and the preferred output.
Unsupervised Learning doesn’t have a training data set but can be used to detect repetitive patterns and styles.
Reinforcement Learning encourages trial-and-error learning by rewarding and punishing respectively for preferred and undesired results.
Along with better-written algorithms, several other factors helped accelerate progress:
Exponential improvements in computing capability with the development of Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) and Tensor Processing Units have reduced training times and enabled implementation of more complex algorithms.
The availability of massive amounts of data today has also contributed to sharpening machine learning algorithms. The first significant phase of data creation happened with the spread of the internet, with large scale creation of documents and transactions. The next big leap was with the universal adoption of smartphones generating tons of disorganized data — images, music, videos, and docs. We have another phase of data explosion today with cloud networks and smart devices constantly collecting and storing digital information. With so much data available to train neural networks on potential scores of use-cases, significant milestones can be surpassed, and we are now witnessing the result of decades of optimistic strides.
- Google has built autonomous cars.
- Microsoft used machine learning to capture human movement in the development of Kinect for Xbox 360.
- IBM’s Watson defeated previous winners on the television show Jeopardy! where contestants need to come up with general knowledge questions based on given clues.
- Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Voice Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, etc. are well-equipped conversational AI assistants that process language and perform tasks based on voice commands.
- AI is becoming capable of learning from scratch the best strategies and gameplay to defeat human players in multiple games — Chinese board game Go by Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo, computer game DotA 2 by OpenAI are two prolific instances.
- Alibaba language processing AI outscored top contestants in a reading and comprehension test conducted by Stanford University.
- And most recently, Google Duplex has learned to use human-sounding speech almost flawlessly to make appointments over the phone for the user.
- We have even created a Chatbot (called Eugene Goostman) that passed the Turing Test, 64 years after it was first proposed.
All the above examples are path-breaking in each field, but they also show the kind of specialized results that we have managed to attain. In addition, such achievements were realized only by organizations which have access to the best resources — finance, talent, hardware, and data. Building a humanoid bot which can be taught any task using a general artificial intelligence algorithm is still some distance away, but we are taking the right steps in that direction.
Bridged is helping companies realize their dream of developing AI bots and apps by taking care of their training data requirements. We create curated data sets to train machine learning algorithms for various purposes — Self-driving Cars, Facial Recognition, Agri-tech, Chatbots, Customer Service bots, Virtual Assistants, NLP and more.
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