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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Isaac Asimov'vin moolaiyo Robot ~ how to keep AI under control !!!

The Theory of Everything, the 2014 British biographical romantic drama film directed by James Marsh  is in news – it was based on -  My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, which deals with her relationship with her ex-husband, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.  The hero donning the role of Stephen won the best actor Oscar this time.   I had posted on that and on Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and Charcot disease, is a specificdisorder that involves the death of neurons.  Hawking is afflicted by rare early-onset slow-progressing form of ALS  that has gradually paralysed him over the decades.  He had experienced increasing clumsiness during his final year at Oxford, including a fall on some stairs and difficulties when rowing.  The problems worsened, and his speech became slightly slurred;  - yet with all drawbacks, he has achieved great things !  Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence has the potential to be the downfall of mankind. 'Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history,' he said writing in the Independent. 'Unfortunately, it might also be the last'

I have been making frequent references to the Rajnikant starrer, Shankar directed blockbuster ‘Enthiran’ - Dr Vaseegaran, a scientist working on alternative intelligence develops a humanoid  robot  which gets rejected by sinister designs.  At one point of time, the robot ‘Chitti’ asks why he has not been provided with ‘emotion’.  Dr Vaseegaran reprogrammes it with human feelings and emotions so that it could  distinguish between right and wrong. However things go wrong when Chitti falls in love with Sana ( Aishwarya).  Towards the climax, the robot replicates itself multiple times and lengthy fight ensues.   In one of the songs hailing robot, comes reference to ‘Isaac Asimov’

Isaac Asimov was born in Petrovichi near Klimovichi, then Gomel Governorate in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic – he rose to become professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was prolific and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.  Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime.  The Galactic Empire novels are explicitly set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series.

Like Enthiran, the possibility or rather the apprehension of robots dominating human World is often discussed and a project is launched to ensure ‘artifiicial intelligence’ would only follow rules and make ethical decisions.  Researchers at the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool and the West of England, Bristol will address concerns around artificially intelligent robots – their  £1.4 million project will run until 2018.  Project aims to ensure robots meet industrial standards and are created responsibly, allaying fears that humans may not be able to control them.

In Dec 2014 was this interesting report in MailOnline which is excerpted here : Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are among the eminent scientists who fear that intelligent robots could be mankind’s downfall.  Only recently, Professor Hawking warned that 'artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,' and a team of British researchers are embarking on a collaborative project to ensure that the autonomous robots we build in the future will make decisions that are ethical and can follow rules.
Robots that can think and act without human intervention are fast moving from fiction to reality. There are fears that intelligent robots could one day overthrow humans.  The nuclear, aerospace, manufacturing and agricultural industries are starting to develop autonomous systems that can carry out tasks that are either too difficult or too dangerous for humans, while driverless cars are already with us. Researchers at the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool and the West of England, Bristol have set up a new project to address concerns around these new technologies, with the aim of  ensuring robots meet industrial standards and are developed responsibly.

Professor Michael Fisher, principal investigator at Liverpool, said the project will ‘develop formal verification techniques for tackling questions of safety, ethics, legality and reliability across a range of autonomous systems.’ Google has set up an ethics board to oversee its work in artificial intelligence.  The search giant has recently bought several robotics companies, along with Deep Mind, a British firm creating software that tries to help computers think like humans. Among all forms of technology that could wipe out the human species, they single out artificial intelligence, or AI, as the 'number 1 risk for this century.'

The three ‘laws of robotics’ were devised by sci-fi author Isaac Asimov in a short story he wrote in 1942, called ‘Runaround’.  It is stated that a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

As part of the new research project, the University of Liverpool will focus on the development of ‘verification tools’ that will provide mathematical proof about the decisions the intelligent systems will make, allowing experts to check up on future machines’ actions.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Feb 2015.


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