Technology is advancing so fast it’s hard to keep up with the latest computer or smartphone, much less the latest AI intelligence. Could it be upon us?

Could our machine counterparts be waiting right outside the doorway of the next decade? Science says… maybe.

And there’s another pressing question at hand. Will our mechanical children rise up and wage war with us, a race of softer, more pliable entities? Science shows its most recent progress in this area.

Replacing the human worker

Forecasts reveal that in less than 10 years, robotics in the work environment will not only develop automated physical activities but cognitive ones as well. A factory full of thinking robots sounds a little intimidating to me, personally.

Peter Sondergaard, of Gartner research firm, says,

“One in three jobs will be converted to software, robots, and smart machines.”

From virtual nervous systems to walking talking machines

CEO, Dr. Mark Sagar, of the AI company called Soul Machines, in New Zealand, spoke about the recent advancements in artificial intelligence, saying it won’t be long until robots live among human beings as thinking speaking entities. Sagar is an AI engineer, who created a virtual nervous system, and also believes that robotic hardware is catching up with advancements in this software.

Soul Machines has made leaps and bounds with its work in artificial nervous systems. Using computer graphics, this Aukland-based company has created amazing replicas of the human face. These graphics copy human expression, reproducing smiles, frowns and even complex emotions when awarded during testing.

Dr. Sagar told CNBC,

“We are creating realistic adult avatars serving as virtual assistants.”

Nadia and Baby X

The visual aesthetics of Hollywood actress Cate Blanchette were used to create a prototype AI chatbot named Nadia. This development will be used to help disabled people navigate certain areas of government sites. It will be another year until Nadia is fully operational. She already answers thousands of questions with facial expressions identical to human beings.

If advancements continue in a positive direction, Nadia could actually aid people in face to face situations, as well. We could speak with this new being just as we speak with our human friends, family members of other loved ones. We can conduct in-person business and ask questions in a more personal manner!

In 2014, work with the Baby X program helped break ground for the work done with Nadia. Dr. Sagar’s team in the Bioengineering Institute Laboratory for Animate Technologies created the baby girl to perform human expressions and answer various questions. To understand the difference between good and bad, the babies brain was implemented with algorithms which allowed it to also answer commands and recognize certain images.

These methods allow the child to respond like a real human baby. Researchers also praised Baby X verbally to let her know that she did a good job, and this, in turn, released dopamine. Whatever the baby learns, it can use in future tests to understand the appropriate actions and reactions.

Will robots make such a huge step in only 10 years time?

While some believe in such an advancing future, others think that 10 years if just not enough time to create robots like we’ve seen in the movies. Artificial intelligence is indeed changing and improving, allowing us to take a glimpse into a fantastical realm, but will we see it in our own lifetime?

I say, give us a half a decade or more and we could possibly see major changes in AI advancement. Until then, science will continue to improve software and implement more humanistic qualities to a growing population of mechanical offspring. Hopefully, our children won’t rise against us.

References:

  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk
  2. http://www.pbs.org