Week 3 - Robotics and A.I. - Shanpeng Li

Robots have been the prime example of futuristic imaginations in countless movies. They are often depicted as extremely smart entities capable of thinking for themselves or performing advanced tasks. While such imaginations seemed impossible in the past, we are actually approaching such advanced technology today. If you think about it, we are constantly being exposed to advanced robots today not just from movies but also everyday tools. While they are nowhere like the imaginations that were created years ago, they are still considered robots that can perform their jobs extremely well.

Some of the well known movies that depict robots are movies such as The Matrix, Terminator series, and iRobot. In each movie, the robots differ in numerous ways such as appearance, function, complexity…etc, but there is one fundamental similarity that connects them all. This similarity is artificial intelligence. Each robot has a consciousness of its own and they are capable of learning from humans. This technology is definitely something that is not developed yet. Robots in today’s world are very one-dimensional entities that are specialized into certain tasks because they are programmed to do so. Each robot has its own unique program code that commands what it is supposed to do and how to do it. It is simply impossible for robots to think for themselves and perform actions outside of its commands. Many such robots exist today and while they seem extremely advanced, but they are still not in the same realm as those depicted in movies. For example, if we look at common household items such as the television, it is programmed to receive signal and project the signal onto the screen for us to watch. Also complicated machines are used to create products at unimaginable speed such as those that build automobiles. It is programmed to movie car parts to extremely precise locations and combines them together. Such robotic machines serve a purpose in our daily life, there are also those that do not serve anything purpose but simply for entertainment and technological achievement. Sony, one of the world’s largest multinational conglomerate leading in the manufacture of electronics have developed many highly advanced entertainment robots such as ones that can perform synchronized dance and those that can move in response to different music. ( More information can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vwZ5FQEUFg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTxdKi77G20&feature=related) Even though these highly advanced robots do not serve much of a purpose in our lives, it definitely displays the true power of technological advancement in today’s world. Comparing to the movie clips displayed during lecture, our technology today still does not live up to the past’s expectations.

Many futuristic imaginations are made into movies as shown from numerous examples, but nearly all of them do not come true. Movies in the past depicted today’s society with highly advanced technology such as flying cars, robots that think for themselves, and every household item being automatic without us having to perform any action. Even today, movies are being made about the future and one of the popular themes consist of robots gaining a conscious of its own and turning back on its makers such as those shown in The Terminator and The Matrix. In my opinion, I highly doubt that artificial intelligence will be developed in the near future because the fundamental concept behind every machine is still the same. A programmer is required to write every single action the machine is capable of and it is simple impossible for the machine to learn on its own and perform actions that dramatically differ from what its programmed to do. Every response the robot is capable of is written in its code and cannot change on its own. When the day comes where artificial intelligence is developed, that’s the day we have to start worrying about robots turning against us. 

-Shanpeng Li

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