Blurring The Lines Between Machines And Humans

The day may not be far away when supercomputers and robots take over humankind. Companies such as Google are already working on this vision, though they cite that these initiatives can bring tremendous gain in the business, research and community development. Google is currently working on a super-fast “quantum” computer chip in which machines can have the ability to think like humans. The tech titan is also working on projects including self-driving cars and robots that are increasingly focused on artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years.

The day may not be far away when supercomputers and robots take over humankind.

The day may not be far away when supercomputers and robots take over humankind.

For the new initiative, it has added renowned researcher John Martinis and his team at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to the Quantum Artificial Intelligence team at Google, the director of engineering Hartmut Neven says in the company blog. The team can design and build chips operating on sub-atomic levels in ways making them exponentially faster than processors currently used in computers, he informs.

“With an integrated hardware group the Quantum AI team will now be able to implement and test new designs for quantum optimization and inference processors based on recent theoretical insights as well as our learning from the D-Wave quantum annealing architecture,” he mentions.

The dangers of super-intelligence

An Oxford philosophy professor, Nick Bostrom, however sees a lot of threat in the rise of super-intelligence, which he believes can outperform human intellect in every field, and thinks its most likely form will be “artificial intelligence.”

In an interview with Huffington Post, Bostrom argues that there are two ways AI could go. “It could greatly improve our lives and solve the world’s problems, such as disease, hunger and even pain. Or, it could take over and possibly kill all or many humans. As it stands, the catastrophic scenario is more likely, says Bostrom, who has a background in physics, computational neuroscience and mathematical logic.

Opportunities abound

Despite the impending threats, analysts see abundant opportunities for companies like Google, Apple and Facebook who are taking artificial intelligence, robotics and super-intelligence to the next level.

They believe, Google is moving away from search, ads, and Android and has made a number of acquisitions that are linked to robotics. These initiatives are a part of the company’s Google X division that is responsible for the company’s moon-shot projects such as self-driving cars, Google Glass etc. The new head of Google’s robotics business is Andy Rubin, who led the successful development of Android. Under Rubin’s guidance, the company has reportedly bought several companies and start-ups related to robotics including, Schaft.inc, a Japanese firm specializing in Humanoid robots, Redwood Robotics, a US-based firm dealing with Robotic Arms and then Boston Dynamics, which also works in the field of robotics.

Last year, Google’s artificial intelligence lab partnered with US space agency NASA on quantum computing research. In December last year, Google has reportedly hired a former Microsoft employee to work on machine learning.

Google had also announced its acquisition of DeepMind, a UK-based start-up that focuses on artificial intelligence early this year. Google Chiefs said that the DeepMind acquisition will help them augment their artificial intelligence capacity strengthening its foothold in the field of Robotics.

Very recently, Google bought AI app Emu that learns behaviors to organize your life. Emu was founded by ex-Google and Apple employee Gummi Hafsteinsson and its ‘machine learning’ capabilities could provide Google with added context and faster response times, across different devices, the company said in a statement.

Emerging powerful

Although it’s not clear what Google will do with some of its latest AI-based acquisitions or partnerships, it is likely to make our lives “more connected and intelligent.” As a Guardian report points out: “What makes these robotics acquisitions interesting is, what they reveal about the scale of Google’s ambitions. For this is a company that’s like we have not seen before. Because if even a fraction of the company’s ambitions eventually come to fruition, Google will become one of the most powerful corporations on Earth.”

In the light of these developments, some analysts also believe that Google will be taking its rivalry with Apple and Facebook to a virtual world, in the machine learning and artificial intelligence space where these companies are all making inroads and we shall be ready to see the fierce battle of power and intelligence in the days to come.

(The article has been originally published in http://www.cxotoday.com/)

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