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“Artificial intelligence is still in its infancy”


Felix Herger talks about three theses on the subject rescue robots and artificial intelligence.

Today, a world without robots to penetrate dangerous environments is virtually inconceivable. 

Felix: Natural disasters are impossible to prevent and can come up at any time without warning. Specialized robot systems can help to restore order, rein in the damage and prevent additional hazards to humans. Today, I can’t imagine a world without robots to bravely enter danger zones in place of humans. Take underwater robots, for instance: Without them, construction or maintenance of underwater pipelines would be impossible.

Some years into the future, artificial intelligence will be making better decisions than human beings.

For now, however, it is still in its infancy. That’s why it’s difficult to predict just how clever the robots of the future will be. However, I am confident that in twenty or thirty years artificial intelligence will make things possible that are currently far beyond the limits of our imagination and that will have a huge influence on our daily lives. For instance, it may become possible one day to replace parts of the human brain with chips, eventually resulting in a complete merging of consciousness with computing. This is a disturbing thought. Fortunately, it remains pure science fiction for the time being.


Nao, Romeo and Pepper. Robots learn to recognize and react to human emotions. Copyright: Aldebaran Robotics

When humans and machines interact and work together hand in hand, one thing has to be ensured: The human has to be the focus. The robot is there to provide support.

This reminds me of Asimov’s laws, which were conceived by Isaac Asimov for a short story and have since become applicable to real-life interaction with computers:

  1.  A robot may not injure a human being or, through  inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2.  A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3.  A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

These laws are more than eighty years old, but they will very likely continue to apply 800 years from now. Even if beings with artificial intelligence can someday make their own decisions, it will always be humans who build the robots, program the robots, and imbue them with intelligence. This means that humans will continue to be the masters of technology – so long as no humans decide they want this to change.

Author: Felix Herger

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