Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron, Editor ª Published Monthly By T & L Publications, Inc.
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ERVO FOR THE ROBOT INNOVATOR
6 SERVO 08.2017
While you’re working on that carpet roamer or quadcopter,
it’s fun to imagine where technology
will bring robotics in your lifetime.
There’s likely to be some resistance
from animal rights organizations, but
at some point, quadcopter and
predator drone guidance systems will
likely have the thought processes and
perhaps even memories of hawks or
other birds of prey.
Eventually, someone is going to
download some part of a human’s
cerebral cortex into synthetic
memory. That’s when it gets tricky.
As dozens of science fiction authors
have detailed, there are issues of
rights, of enslavement, and no death
to escape it all. Granted, there will
be all sorts of social and political
issues. For now, let’s look at what
could possibly go wrong on the
Foremost on my list is
disease/decay. Every life form that I
know of is susceptible to disease,
and every synthetic object is prone to
decay. While a human is remarkably
self-healing in most respects,
machines and computer chips are
Flash memory degrades with
read/write operations, for example.
While the average human lifespan
might be 72 years, I don’t know of
any computer that hasn’t gone down
in the past five years. And while I’ve
seen early room-sized computers that
date from the ‘50s in museums,
none of them were working.
One obvious workaround may be
to frequently back up the system.
However, that’s going to be a time-consuming expensive process,
assuming the systems will require
several hundred TB of memory. It’s
probably cheaper to toss the
embedded AI when it’s corrupted
and drop in a new one. (So much for
Related to disease/decay is that
humans are not logical creatures.
Our nervous systems often break
down for unknown reasons --
perhaps from a stroke, a viral
infection (e.g., meningitis), physical
trauma to the brain, or PTSD from a
war or a bad childhood.
Given we don’t know how to
cure most of these neurological
diseases/disorders in humans, how
can we possibly repair a synthetic
brain that exhibits similar behaviors?
Recall the depressed robot,
Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy Probably another case
of tossing the embedded AI and
I have yet to meet a perfect
human. As such, the first human
downloads will certainly contain
errors, even if the transfer process
doesn’t introduce additional issues.
It’s hard for me to imagine how
a paranoid schizophrenic embedded
AI in a toaster might manifest itself –
perhaps burning the toast when it
knows you’re already running late for
Extending Your Life as an
What Could Possibly Go