Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Robot DNA: Building Blocks For Artificial Life

In my previous article I wrote about the changing computing landscape, the game-changing technologies on the horizon and the arrival of a new frontier, Computing 2.0. Computing 2.0 represents not only a new age for computing but a whole new world for mankind.

In this particular piece I will explore some of the key game-changing technologies in the R&D stable, highlighting how each pioneering component helps to create a form of Robot DNA. In the near future, once these technologies mature and become unified, an intelligent robotic platform will begin to emerge. From here, the building blocks for artificial life will edge ever closer.

However, rather than speculate on if, or indeed when that may be, this article will spotlight the key science and technology disciplines converging to create a futuristic robotic-driven world.

Computer Science Meets Natural Science

Perhaps not surprisingly, each and every one these emerging technologies originate from the study of natural sciences. Bionics is considered an umbrella term at the forefront of this mission, defined by Wikipedia as “the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology”. In other words, winning aspects of nature are studied, modelled and reverse-engineered for human benefit, a type of biology-inspired computing.  

Research studies continue to focus on human cognition and consciousness, the ways in which make us uniquely human, and whilst we are yet to see the fruits on such intense and complex explorations, a number of exciting developments are bubbling in the R&D pipeline.

Emerging Technology Spotlight

The concept of Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), “a computational simulation of a biological neural network” is set to play a key role in the evolution of Cognitive Computing. In short, ANN is a type of decision-making technology mimicking functions of the brain, bringing us one step closer to the concept of the artificial brain. When you also add Linguistics & Semantic Computing into the mix, these interrelated disciplines form a powerful brain-like alternative.   

Linguistics, the study of human language, is a little known science discipline outside of its buzzing community. But not for long. Long the realm of science fiction and a key staple of Artificial Intelligence, this is one area set to truly revolutionise the way we live and work in the not so distant future. The goal of computer linguistics: to teach computers to understand and act upon human language, bringing intelligent human-computer, computer-human interaction to life.

Real-time speech translation will ensure the world talks in one universal language, powering a new wave of globalisation. This will merely be a sign of things to come. A plethora of new question-answer applications will be born, powering super-intelligent cognitive systems that supplement, and even replace, some of the most complex reasoning and analytical tasks and jobs undertaken by humans today. 

Semantics, a sub-discipline of the Linguistics domain, will initially drive up interest in this field as it seeks to bring meaning to a growing world of unstructured information – automatically. In theory, everything and anything will be linked, tagged and categorised with such consummate precision, that intelligent search and information discovery will be taken to unimaginable new levels. A world knowledge model will be developed in the process, powering all kinds of super-intelligent applications, a layer of human-like intelligence confining unstructured information issues towards the fate of the Dinosaurs. Extinction.  

And finally, the concept of Super Machine Vision will breathe life into intelligent machines, as computers surpass the abilities of the human vision system. Computers will be able to detect, analyse and assess their environment, in the same dynamic manner as humans. Sub-disciplines such as Biometrics will also increasingly play an important part – automating the identification of humans by their unique characteristics and traits. A whole new world of intelligent computing applications will be made possible.

Age of Robotics

As we look to the future, a number of transformational technology innovations will join forces to announce the age of robotics, signalling a profound shift in global computing. In summary:
  • Computers will acquire a form a speech (speech to text, and text to speech) via rapidly maturing Speech Recognition
  • Computers will acquire a form of understanding and comprehension through long awaited, breakthrough Linguistics and Natural Language Processing technology
  • Computers will acquire a form of sight through Super Machine Vision that will recognise, analyse and detect real-world objects, people and things
  • And Cognitive Computing & Artificial Neural Networks will simulate the power of the human brain, giving rise to artificial brain-like decision and reasoning engines 

These technologies originate from the very heart of human consciousness, our innate senses – the way in which we see, hear and understand – and, as a race, we are rapidly making strides to reverse engineer these unique capabilities for computer consumption.

Planet Earth is certainly going to be an interesting place to be. 

1 comment: