The website Cleverbot, the iPhone helper Siri, video game characters, and now a robot in New York have one significant thing in common. They are examples of what artificial intelligence is today. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines sentient. Recently a robot in New York has passed a simple test of artificial intelligence, by no means does it have consciousness, but it is a step in the right direction that scientists and engineers are heading in. The start of true artificial intelligence has begun.
Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute adapted a puzzle, the Kings Wise Men puzzle for three robots that they created. The puzzle is that the King called the three wisest men in the country to his court to decide who would become his new advisor. He placed a hat on each of their heads, such that each wise man could see all of the other hats, but none of them could see their own. Each hat was either white or blue. The King gave his word to the wise men that at least one of them was wearing a blue hat which means there could be one to three blue hats but there couldn’t be zero. The King told them that it would be a fair contest for the three of them. The men were forbidden to speak to each other. The King declared that whichever man stood up first and announced the colour of his respective hat then he’d become the new advisor.
The puzzle was adapted to suit the experiment with the robots. The trio were told that they were given a “dumbing pill” which prevented all of them from speaking. They were asked which one of them could actually speak. None of them knew and said I don’t know but when the one that could speak heard his voice, he said that he knew. This doesn’t mean that the robot in question has artificial intelligence, far from it. What it represents however is the beginning of technology being able to reason with itself. Technology is far off from having consciousness but it may come to fruition.
Last year, a super-computer successfully passed the Turing Test. This test is a way to determine if a machine may think like a human. The computer which resides in London, England was able to trick 33% of people that interrogated it that it was indeed in fact, a teenage boy.
Professor Stephen Hawking once told the BBC in an interview that the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. The fear of artificial intelligence deciding to overtake humans on the evolutionary scale and perhaps enslaving us is present in science fiction films like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘The Matrix’. Basic forms of artificial intelligence already do exist in smartphone apps and even the technology that Stephen Hawking uses to communicate. With the speed of progression that technology already has today, a robot with consciousness may be on the horizon.