2009 July 16 Thursday
Androids In Year 2060

Two researchers do not expect Commander Data capabilities in Androids by 2060.

Everyday human interaction is not what you would call perfect, so what if there was a third party added to the mix - like a metallic version of us? In a new article in Perspectives on Psychological Science, psychologist Neal J. Roese and computer scientist Eyal Amir from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign investigate what human-android interactions may be like 50 years into the future.

With knowledge of present day technology, the scientists predict that within 50 years androids will be able to speak in human-like voices, identify spoken words with precision, answer questions from a body of textual information, walk and run in a human-like motion, display realistic facial expressions, and detect others' emotions through visual processing.

However, even with these advances, it will be more than 50 years before we see the human-acting and organic-looking androids of sci-fi movies. By 2060, it is predicted that androids will still be unable to detect aspects of natural language, and be incapable of forming conclusions from visual sensory input (specifically, seeing but not understanding). The most difficult development in artificial intelligence (AI) is trying to program the "Theory of Mind," or the effortless human ability to process other people's speech, actions, underlying motives, and emotional state.

Roese and Amir predict that by 2060 androids will be used for menial jobs, such as toll collectors, where the presence of a non-human is practical, but not frightening. A major worker shift from people to androids, similar to the shift to machines in factories, is expected to occur.

Toll collectors? There've been toll collecting machines for years. If and when AI cars and trucks are allowed to drive themselves then truckers are going to need to find other ways to make a living. I'd like to see more automation of the most dangerous jobs first. For example, lumberjacks have among the most dangerous jobs. See page 13 here for a table of rates and absolute numbers of deaths in occupations. An even better table of fatalities per hours worked shows fishing and logging as the most dangerous. Androids out in forests and on fishing boats (assuming any fish remain) could replace humans in dangerous jobs. Hopefully the androids could operate the equipment better as well.

I do not find human-shaped highly intelligent machines as most interesting. Rather, machines that do highly valuable work for us which are shaped for specialized jobs are of much greater value. For example, robotic surgeons are improving quality of surgery and minimizing the amount of recuperation needed by causing less avoidable damage. We will need robotic surgeons to help replace aging body parts as they wear out. Once advances in tissue engineering and stem cell manipulation make it easy to grow replacement organs and joints we will need robotic surgeons to reduce the error rates and costs for their implantation. Also, robots far less powerful than future androids allow doctors to do remote medical rounds cut costs and extend the reach of the most talented specialists.

By Randall Parker    2009 July 16 11:15 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (16)
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