4.04.2009

Just Like a Gateway Drug

From Wired, a story about a true robot scientist capable of forming hypotheses, testing them, and "discovering." The big deal here is the potential that seemingly exists for scientific discovery as this technology evolves. As the article mentions, automation is already widely used to perform monotonous, time-consuming processes that are part of complex experiments like genome annotation. But forming a hypothesis has always been an exclusively human activity.

There are many species of hypotheses. Some are more "autonomous," and others call for human introspection and creativity. Could freeing scientists to spend more time forumulating the latter type speed the process of discovery? Maybe. In the meantime, the line that divides biological and artificial intelligence continues to blur.
"But with advances in artificial intelligence, it's conceivable that the role of robots would, in the more distant future, creep deeper into the human realm, progressing from lab technician to lab head. Robots may even be capable of performing supposed acts of genius, such as Einstein's conception of special relativity."

1 comment:

Pat said...

I don't know whether to be intimidated by the power of artificial intelligence or enthused by the vast amount of creativity we can foster with "teams of humans and machines."

I think so far history has shown us that technology doesn't steal jobs, it leads to the automation of old jobs and the creation of new and exciting jobs and more growth and technology and on and on. E.g. the advent of automated machines on car assembly lines and such led to the creation of more engineering and design jobs within car manufacturing plants. But are we ditching out the common laborer who doesn't have the advanced training and never got the necessary educational support from a younger age?

Is the only job of the future computer programmer? What will be left for us humans?

I can see why it would be so satisfying to write a book like 1984 or Brave New World, or come up with a story like Terminator. Interesting that pop culture and art generally cling to the idea of future technology overpowering/challenging us humans.