Robotics coming to warfare is a mostly obvious topic from following the increased use of unmanned drones in “Targeted Killings” and surveillance, along with the ability to defuse a bomb remotely through the use of robotics etc. etc. – the presence and dexterity of real life robotics in use in war and industry is evident. But complex tasks and decisions still require a human operator. What caught my attention in the Fault Lines program was around 17:45 minutes into the video – when the interviewer/narrator states that most experts they contacted seem to be in general agreement that “in just a few decades the robots that will exist in our world will be unrecognizable by today’s standards”.
Followed shortly by Roboticist Robert Finkelstein saying he thinks “the probability is virtually one, a certainty, that machines will be as intelligent as people, that we will have intelligent robots, that robots will be ubiquitous”. And that this Artificial Intelligence (AI) will happen in our lifetimes.
Experts often underestimate the difficulty of certain feats, and AI certainly has been one in the past, but more and more it seems what computer programs achieve are indeed the initial steps to real AI. Primitive cognitive processes that allow for stable walking, achieving goals… evolving. And with technological evolution so much faster than biological evolution the predictions of 2030-2050 seem rational. In other words, a good idea or not, humanity is entering the Science Fiction realm of machines that are smart.