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Artificial Intelligence

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Enriching our lives with Artificial Intelligence

Today, homo sapiens or modern humans are undisputed rulers of the earth. Quite often, human intelligence is considered as the primary reason for achieving this. The dictionary definition of intelligence focusses on the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. However, when it comes to comparing intelligence across different species, the interpretation of this definition becomes more complex. To apply this definition to other species, we first need to understand how they acquire knowledge and what applying knowledge means for them. These are not easy questions to answer. One could resort to comparing the size of the brain alone, which would make the whale the most intelligent species on the planet. If we try to be fair across species of different sizes and consider the ratio of the size of the brain relative to the body, then ants would easily beat humans. Dolphins also show a remarkably high brain size compared to their body. Thus, by simple measure of brain size, we cannot rank humans at the top. So what is the secret sauce that humans possess that makes them so overwhelmingly superior and capable of ruling the planet?

Quite likely the answer to this question lies in a combination of traits that humans exhibit along with the relatively high intelligence. One of the other important traits is dexterity of movement, especially with hands in the form of opposable thumbs. This gives humans a significant advantage in crafting sophisticated tools. These tools can help humans tackle animals that are much bigger and much more powerful. However, using tools is also not a unique feature of humans and many other animals including birds, elephants and other primates are known to use some form of tools. Then comes another strong trait in the form of ability to communicate and create a social web with other humans. Humans, by virtue of an advanced vocal tract, can make articulate sounds that can result in communicating complex thoughts and messages. This feature is also not exclusive to humans and quite a few other species including primates, other land animals as well as whales and dolphins are known to communicate within their species using fairly complex signals. However, if we combine all of these traits together, we are left with a very small intersection and even in that, the level of sophistication that humans exhibit in each trait puts them quite a bit ahead of others. Then one can further add features like stereo vision, longevity, and the intersection with other species quickly converges to a single species.

With the help of such a unique combination of features, humans have gathered vast intelligence over generations and have come to where we are in the twenty first century. With the recent advent of Artificial Intelligence, growth of intelligence has skyrocketed exponentially. We have come ever so close to understanding how biological intelligence works and how to translate that into machine intelligence, to make the lives of humans richer, safer and more satisfying.

I would like to propose a novel application of our understanding of Artificial Intelligence and our expertise in building sophisticated machines in the form of an augmented suite (like an Iron Man suit if you will) for a select set of species. Such a suite would be capable of responding to the neural signals from the species, performing complex movements and generating complex sounds. With guided reinforcement training, the species will learn how to use their new-found capabilities. The sound production can even be made to match a human language. As the learning would be starting from scratch, it could take months, even years to show results.

However, if our understanding of human learning is correct, such an experiment should be successful, and the species would be able to respond in language and expression understandable to humans. This would mark a new era in the history of human civilization. It would open unlimited avenues in understanding the secrets of nature. For example, the caribous could tell us how they use natural clues to guide their path of migration, or bar-headed geese could explain how they can fly at such extreme altitudes. The stories from comic movies can come to real life.

On the flip side, we’d be dealing with a true intelligence with its own priorities, and sometimes these priorities may not coincide with humans’, and we could encounter some resistance. However, I am sure, as we progress towards more complex and intelligent interactions with other species, we will be prepared to handle such situations. Overall, I believe these interactions will open up such a wealth of information and even entertainment, that will enrich our lives to a level we cannot even imagine today.

About the author

Ameet Joshi © SpringerDr. Ameet Joshi received his PhD from Michigan State University in 2006. He has over 15 years of experience in developing machine learning algorithms in various different industrial settings including Pipeline Inspection, Home Energy Disaggregation, Microsoft Cortana Intelligence and Business Intelligence in CRM. He is currently a Data Science Manager at Microsoft. Previously, he has worked as Machine Learning Specialist at Belkin International and a Director of Research at Microline Technology Corp. He is a member of several technical committees, has published in numerous conference and journal publications and contributed to edited books. He also has two patents and have received several industry awards including and Senior Membership of IEEE (which only 8% of members achieve).  

Selected research edited by Dr. Ameet Joshi: 

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