Can Computers Win the Turing Test?

Do you recall the scene in the movie I, Robot in which the robot calculates that Will Smith’s chances of surviving are better than that of the little girl and thus chooses to save Will Smith, in contrast to what a human would have most likely done? And have you seen how a small child will laugh when it watches a cartoon movie? All these acts of random emotions that we humans display so casually are still a distant dream for robots to do. There are situations when machines need to be emotionally intelligent so that they can do their work better. Imagine a decision-support system for doctors to suggest the treatment for children. And think of mental hospitals where the doctor has to deal with a patients of varying emotions and thinking. Thus, decision-support systems in such areas have to be emotionally intelligent as well. Moreover, a robot doctor that could detect emotions and even laugh could be more effective when treating mental patients and children.

There are robots today that can sense emotions, but they still have a long way to go. Robots lack such emotional intelligence and thus cannot be trusted with decision-making that involves emotions. They need to be given the understanding of emotions like laughter and sorrow in order to both communicate and understand human behavior. Knowledge representation, natural language processing and heuristic search techniques are very important for achieving this aspect in robot machines.

For emotional intelligence, we can simulate several emotions and record them into a robot. However, we cannot decide which one is correct or wrong. Thus, emotional intelligence in robots is a little difficult to implement. Brooks argued that embodiment, situatedness, intelligence and emergence are the key ideas of behavior-based robots.

Consider an example where a robot is put in a room and told to come out of it. It does not know how to do that. So it starts by walking and moving towards the door. When it reaches the door, it will just bang into the door. No imagine if you put the same robot in the same situation again, and it stopped when it is about to bang into the door? Why? The robot has learned from its past experience that there is door here and it needs to stop and open it. If it does not do so, it will just get hurt (pun intended! Emotions again!). So this is how a robot can learn from the past experience like humans. Humans follow a similar kind of learning process. An infant is completely ignorant in the beginning, but it starts learning from the environment and its mistakes. For e.g. it tries to walk on 2 legs but has to fall some times before understanding what it must do and what not in order to walk better. If we bump into a door, we will be careful not to let it happen again when in the same or similar situations.

Creativity is another aspect that humans can do better than robots (we humans created robots didn’t we?). Humans have the ability to think creatively and try out new things. They have a part of their brain (the right brain is associated with such capabilities) specifically entrusted with this task. Art, culture and literature are some aspects that are affected by us and robots cannot do all this at present. The concept of making machines intelligent involves embedding the intelligence and logic within the machine. Implementing this creativity in machines will require the concepts of self-evolving and self-healing computers. Emotional intelligence in robots is not far-off now, but creativity has still some way to go.

Creativity in machines is not far away from reality. It is natural to ask if computers can be creative as they are slowly learning to think on their own. Computers can excel in well structured areas of problem solving e.g. algebra. However, it will be interesting to know if they can create an art masterpiece or a novel idea/application. Creativity means being completely new and something that has not been done before. This is something that computers are slowly becoming capable of. AARON, a computer painting program, can develop both abstract and life-like works. Looking at its paintings, it becomes difficult to judge if the work was done by a computer or a human. Harold Cohen, the inventor of COHEN in his latest essay Coloring without seeing: A problem in machine creativity discusses his version of creativity and how AARON still needs to improve to attain that level. BACON is also another compter that has creative thinking.

Artificial Intelligence is at the very core of the smartness embedded in machines. Artificial Intelligence is the field in which machines are provided with the logic and intelligence so that they can perform tasks like humans. In simple words, it is the field in which machines are made intelligent like humans. Researchers in AI have made significant advancements in this field. Researchers are developing nano-sized robots that can flow in blood. These nanorobots are fitted with nano-sized chips that allow them to find infections and steer in complex biological environments. These sensor chips the size of nano-levels can record the signals and process several tasks in seconds. Such high-powered chips combined with AI concepts and logic programming will make machines perform complex and inhuman tasks in future.

Web-Based applications are becoming more and more driven by user-behavior. Mike Perkowitz (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington) explains in his paper (Adaptive Web Sites: an AI Challenge) how we can build an artificially intelligent web site which improves itself over time in response to user interactions with the site. This would involve AI techniques such as knowledge representation, machine learning and user modeling. Applications will understand the information entered by the user to the website, which will be analyzed by these applications. Based on the analytical results obtained, the content on the websites will be displayed to the user.

Alexander Maedche, in his book “Ontology Learning for the Semantic Web” has built an architecture that combines knowledge acquisition with machine learning, thereby feeding on the resources that we nowadays find on the syntactic Web, such as free text, semi-structured text, schema definitions (DTDs), etc. Their proposed architecture is semi-automatic as currently the fully-automatic one is distant.

Ajax as a technology has transformed the way websites interact with the users. Websites like Google have many such applications which collect the information about the user and analyzes it. Then the application decides the features and behavior that is to be used for interacting with the user. This is nothing but the movement towards artificially intelligent systems for better human-computer interaction. Ajax is going to be central to the implementation of Web 3.0 in the internet. Ajax greatly enhances user experience, enabling back-end processes to gain more information about the user and customize its behavior with the user. As time goes by and science advances faster, the websites will become portal-based, with each component loading independently.

So the important question here is: how can artificial intelligence make machines more useful to us? Just think of a nano-sized robot entering into your body and killing your infections and passing medicine to the affected regions. The military provides many such applications such as unmanned aircrafts and ground-based robots that could operate autonomously to explore, surveil, or even attack the enemy. Space vehicles have already reached Mars and given us insight into the possible life outside Earth. Scientists in University of Berkeley as well as in a journal have showed a robotic spider that could sense and move around in its surroundings using its own logic and control. An artificially-intelligent pacemaker could detect any changes in the blood flow or signals and adjust the heartbeat. It could even detect clots and problems in the heart and alert the doctors.

Do you recollect the movie Transformers, in which the machine changes forms as needed? Well, researchers have developed an artificially intelligent robotic ship called “Proteus” that can change forms as needed. It can become a ship as well as a research lab. It has shock-absorbers and springs (No ship has used springs till now!) that make it unique and better in speed braking systems. It can go in very shallow water areas and can travel around the world. Unmanned aircraft that are artificially intelligent can detect objects or people in remote regions and help in rescue missions as well as military operations. It would be naive to ignore the importance of computers in our lives. Our lives are becoming more and more dependent on them such that a symbiotic relationship between man and machine cannot be ruled out. With the speed at which machines are transforming our lives and making the impossible so commonly available, it will not be a surprise to see machines become as smart as humans one day. Surely, this is MISSION NOT IMPOSSIBLE!

In my personal opinion, I feel the day is not far away when man and robot will live in a symbiotic relationship with each other on this planet.


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