Foto: Wikimedia Commons

Artificial intelligence and the rise of robots

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Text: Rajwinder Singh

Days are not far away when robots will be the integral part of our lives. There has been a quantum leap in technological advancement during the past few decades. Researchers are trying to develop robots that will be self aware and will be able to take their own decisions. Many Hollywood movies are inspired by the fact that one day robots will become super intelligent and will take over humans. What is artificial intelligence? How artificially intelligent robot works? How far are we in creating a super intelligent robot? I will try to shed light on these issues in this article.

Intelligence and artificial intelligence

We all have an idea of what intelligence means. People are self aware, they learn from their past experience and try to implement those experiences in their present. This intelligence is innate in case of living beings. Now the question is, can we create a machine which has its own intelligence? Artificial intelligence (AI), as the name suggest is one created by humans which is exhibited my machines. Ideally ‘intelligent’ machine is one which is capable of thinking, problem solving and is able maximizes the chance of achieving success by accessing its surrounding environment.

AI generally involves borrowing characteristics form human intelligence and applying them as algorithms in a computer friendly way. Algorithms is step by step protocol of operation to be performed by a computer or machine. Following are some of the traits expected from an AI machine:

Problem solving: AI machine gets a particular problem as an input from humans. Machine then compares it to the stored data and try to understand what this information implies. Then it runs through various possible actions and predicts the most successful action based on the collected information. Nevertheless, machine will only solve the problems it’s programmed to solve. It doesn’t have its own analytical ability.

Learning: Conventionally, if we want a computer to do something for us, we have to explain it in painstakingly detailed algorithm. By machine learning, we program the machine to learn by itself. Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. all use machine learning. You get recommendations from them for same kind of products or videos etc. based on your previous searches. They learn what kind of things we like.  Roboticists are trying hard to develop machines that can learn faster. In Japan researchers have developed robots which mimics the human actions and repeat them. They will for example learn how to dance by analyzing moves of a person dancing in front of them.

Social interaction: Some robots like Kismet at MIT’s artificial intelligence lab, recognizes human body language and changes in pitch of voice and responds accordingly. This is one of the first robots created which is capable of interacting with humans up to some level.

Feelings and reaction to pain: One advantage of a robots is that it does not feel any pain and hence it can work in harsh conditions. The researchers from Leibniz University of Hannover are developing an artificial robot nervous system to teach robots how to feel pain and quickly respond. This will avoid potential damage to their motors, gears, and electronics. According to scientists, robots in future will be working in close proximity to humans. By having capability to sense any pain or danger can prevent injuries to humans which can be caused by damaged robot.

Master algorithm, can we develop it soon?

Master algorithm is an algorithm using which machine can learn anything from the data. Give three basic laws of physics, it will solve all the physical problems by itself. Give it the vast data of cancer patient records, it will learn how to cure a cancer patient. Pretty much like humans, or even faster than us. To create such an algorithm, we need a deep understanding of how our own brain learns. One of the possible ways is to reverse engineer our brains. Once we have this understanding, its will not take longer to develop master algorithms.

Meet some of the humanoid robots!

Pepper: Pepper is a receptionist at two hospitals in Belgium. It’s 140 cm tall and can communicate in 20 different languages. It can even detect whether it’s talking to man, woman or a child. Its first robot used to greet people in medical field.

Pepper. Photo:
Pepper. Photo:

Atlas: Atlas is a robot designed by Boston dynamics through a project funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), USA. It is designed for search and rescue and can balance very effectively. Latest version is capable of moving through difficult terrain and can even climb mountains to save lives.

Atlas. Photo:
Atlas. Photo:

PETMAN: It was also developed by Boston dynamics for military purposes. In Boston dynamic’s own words, «PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot designed for testing chemical protection clothing. Natural agile movement is essential for PETMAN to simulate how a soldier stresses protective clothing under realistic conditions. Unlike previous suit testers that had a limited repertoire of motion and had to be supported mechanically, PETMAN balances itself and moves freely; walking, bending and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents.”

Petman. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Petman. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Romeo: Romeo is a robot designed for caretaking and personal assistance. It stands 1.4 m tall and body is made up of rubber and carbon fiber to make it as light as possible to avoid the risk of injury to the person that will attend. It can walk, hear, speak and also see in a three dimensional environment.



AI research will help us understand how our natural intelligence work. Some researchers want to reveal these secrets, while others see future world as robots working alongside humans in the field of construction, health care, communication etc. There exist some AI apps that can treat patients better than a doctor and some robots that can probably perform surgery better than doctors. In the coming decades, robots will gradually move out of the industrial and scientific worlds into daily life, in the same way that computers spread to the home in the 1980s. Days are not far away when surgeries will be performed by robots, wars will be fought by the army of robots instead of humans, and people will be riding self driving vehicles.