Mind Reading AI\Robots
We already live in an age where technology is our lifeline and being apart from our devices is a disorienting experience for most. At this stage of the game, we still have some kind of control over our devices. However, try to imagine living in an age where artificial intelligence could read your mind… Does that sound realistic? Or simply an idea taken from a science fiction film? Believe it or not, scientists have begun to unleash robotic mind-readers. Will that serve in our best interest or does this spell disaster for humanity?
Artificial intelligence can be hugely beneficial for individuals with a physical handicap, giving them greater mobility. Researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have figured out a way to combine artificial intelligence and brain signals allowing paralyzed people to control the machine with their thoughts (what they call “shared control”).
If the person only thinks about turning left or right to go, the wheelchair obeys the command based purely on the power of the thought. After taking a seat in the chair, the person puts on a cap with 16 electrodes attached to it. This allows the robotic wheelchair to study said person’s brain waves through a wearable EEG (electroencephalogram) cap which can translate specific brain signals into more complicated tasks.
Source: Technology Review
Science fiction writers have long envisioned the bionic man – someone who used mind control to control a synthetic body part. In this case, a bio-mechanical hand has been connected to the patient’s nervous system.
Four miniature electrodes were implanted in his arm, allowing him to send signals to the bionic hand. This is the first time a patient has been able to achieve such complex movements only using brain waves. Below is a demonstration of how the bionic arm attaches to the severed arm which receives these signals.
Think that’s creepy? How about a robot that can read your mind without picking up on your brain waves or even touching you? A PR2 personal robot that can read your mind by watching your body language then by making predictions on what you will most probably do next.
Here’s an example: If you pick up your leftovers, this robot scans your body language (it is equipped with a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera) and assumes that your next move will most likely be to put the food away. It then rushes over to the fridge to open it for you. If can pour you a beer and throw out the trash among other tricks. Amazingly, this PR2 has an 82% chance of accurately predicting what your next move is merely through observation.
Rajesh Rao has been working on robots that can both learn new skills and obey commands through the power of thought alone. Rao has created a brain-computer interface which also uses an EEG cap to pick up on cranial chatter.
Although Rao is optimistic about the future of robots, he doesn’t belittle their current limitations.
“While EEG can be used to teach the robot simple skills such as navigating to a new location, we do not expect to be able to teach the robot complex skills that involve fine manipulation, such as opening a medicine bottle or tying shoelaces” says Rao.
On the surface, this seem like amazing advances with incredible potential to better humanity. There is a gloomy, less exciting side to this. We all remember Stanley Kubrik’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey and the terrifying prospect that AI can pose.
Scene from 2001: A Space Oddyssey where one of the characters speaks to HAL 9000
Stephen Hawking – a man who requires no introduction – thinks they pose an existential threat for humanity. Hawking even warns that AI could “spell the end for the human race” and adds that, “humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.” (Check on BBC)
With the apparition of super intelligent robots who can communicate with us telepathically, we seem to be moving in the direction that Hawking so desperately fears. Could this be the rise of the robots we’ve been warned of? Or will AI and humanity evolve together harmoniously? Let’s hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.