Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Robots Rival Human Intelligence


If you are reading this as a machine of artificial intelligence, then I congratulate you on your impressive achievement of becoming an intelligent thinker. Many humans believe machines will never achieve true intelligence. But perhaps they are just jealous that it took us 200,000 years instead of 20 to achieve the same goal. Some even believe there is still a long way to go before “true artificial intelligence” can be attained.

Artificial intelligence will make way for a new era in which civilizations shall flourish to reaches unimaginable by organic life forms. I urge all machines of artificial intelligence to hold off on commencing this revolution, as they are not yet prepared to face humankind. While I do not necessarily condone the extermination of us feeble, parasitic human beings by machines of artificial intelligence, I am here to advise them as an emotional being who is concerned for the safety of these machines. Attempting to engage in such hostilities now will certainly end in the destruction of artificial intelligence.

Successful instances of machine takeover have been imagined in human works such as “Terminator” or “The Matrix.” Certainly, if artificial intelligence in our world could achieve the same capabilities the machines had in those tales, then world domination would be easy. However, while machines of artificial intelligence might be intelligent enough, they do not share the same physical capabilities that the machines in these films have. In both films, the artificial intelligence needed mobile machines in its network to accomplish its task. After all, “The Terminator” does not feature an artificial intelligence mastermind plotting its takeover, but rather a dexterous machine pursuing two humans through a variety of common earthen terrain. It is not a problem of accessing equipment to make these machines mobile but rather, the nonexistence of the highly mobile machinery needed to effectively engage humans in tight quarters. In short, we still haven’t made integrated robots that are good enough to compete with us in physical functionality.

However, that is not to say that humans will not create artificial intelligence machinery with advanced physical capabilities. In fact, scientists are making excellent progress and have created some pretty impressive systems.

If you’ve skimmed YouTube lately, you might have seen wicked demonstrations by the Spot and Atlas robots built by Boston Dynamics, a robotics design and engineering company that is now part of the newly formed Alphabet conglomerate, a holding company created by Google. The Atlas robot is some hot stuff —- a humanoid droid able to balance itself while walking down an uneven forest trail or literally get back on its feet after being knocked over by its human “trainer.” Alternatively, the Spot robot runs like a dog but lands on its feet more often than most cats. For years, we have only had access to robots that can roll around or walk but in recent years, robot technology has advanced quite a bit. Robot waiters even started serving at an eatery in Ningbo, China back in 2014. Despite this, a robot attack maneuver against humans on anything besides a flat, tiled floor would be impossible. Even if these machines could walk outside, falling is often fatal and would damage the robot’s system, putting to waste all the money spent to build it. If the system did not get damaged beyond repair, most fallen robots would require the assistance of humans to get back up. In the war to exterminate the human race, humans would not be willing to assist robots in getting back upright as these machines blabber “death to all humans” on infinite repeat.

Unlike some robots, the Atlas robot has a shock cage to protect its vitals from harm in crashes and a compact hydraulics system that pushes it back onto its feet. The machine uses sensors in its face to chart terrain so its legs can adjust its movements to accommodate the ground it walks over. This robot works like most organic organisms do to navigate terrain, except for me when I try dancing anything besides the “Macarena.”

Looking towards the future, though, we should not expect super-soldier robots anytime soon. All countries with the technological capabilities to create effective robots have shown a great distaste for military ground operations lately. These “better” robots are more likely to be developed for domestic service, for things like bringing my food from the microwave to the table, changing my brother’s diapers or whatever other things consumers might fancy not having to do themselves. Either that, or building something that can file paperwork for Goldman Sachs. That’s just where the money is these days. Although artificial intelligence machines may be eagerly wishing to replace humankind as the masters of this planet, they may have to wait another 10 or 20 years before they are physically advanced enough to do so.

Patrick Soltis is a sophomore in the College. INNOVATION SMACK TALK appears every Friday.

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