AI in Space
Now considering the capacity for AI to enter the final frontier, here’s a bit of trivia to consider from NASA.
The first “robots” sent to Mars were the Mariner 3 and 4 in 1964. It’s been 56 years since we started this journey of exploration using robots.
The first “robot” that landed on Mars was The Viking Project in 1976. That’s right over 44 years ago and we have been going every single decade since.
The most recent exploration was in 2018 when NASA Insights Mars touched down after a 7-month journey.
The fact that there is no food, drink, sleep, or water to consider, then that means the sky — or rather Space — is the limit!
Alright, Space travel, that’s exciting but what’s the downside?
- AI is not human, lacking empathy and creativity — Well this is proven by the fact that the robot could survive seven months in space as it traveled to Mars whereas we could not, but perhaps AI hasn’t quite succeeded in duplicating human creativity just yet either.
- AI costs a lot of money, it’s a complex technology — and therefore the investment is astronomical (pun intended!) and could be a crucial factor in slower incremental development. The time frame for the Mars landing above seems evidence enough that we have not progressed that rapidly in this field.
- AI could cause unemployment — this is the very real fear that many people face, and over the previous and coming decades will hold true, but maybe there will be an opportunity too.
Maybe the fact AI is so expensive and improving incrementally means AI will not take over jobs as fast as we think it will, and it will definitely not happen in every industry. (More on this in the final section titled “AI in the Future”.)
And of course, the ultimate conversation starter…
- AI will end up killing us — well sure, there are so many Hollywood movies that tell us so, but there is no certainty this will be the case and it definitely doesn’t stop us from continuing to develop the technology, does it?
Which brings us to singularity theory
Singularity theory in mathematics is not easily explained or understood:
“In mathematics, singularity theory studies spaces that are almost manifolds, but not quite. A string can serve as an example of a one-dimensional manifold, if one neglects its thickness. A singularity can be made by balling it up, dropping it on the floor, and flattening it.” — Wikipedia
Yeah, I don’t get it either.
However, we are talking about technological singularity here, which is much simpler….and much scarier in its definition!
“The technological singularity is a hypothetical point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.” — Wikipedia
According to Enterprise AI, superintelligence will be developed by self-directed computers, increasing exponentially rather than incrementally.
Why is it scary?
Because of the term “singularity”, which was popularized by Vernor Vinge in his 1993 essay “The Coming Technological Singularity” and the idea that a singularity would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate!
“I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans, and I’m rooting for the machines.” — Claude Shannon
Okay, let’s not panic just yet!
If there is a chance that technological singularity is a possibility in the future, it seems to me even more important that we all learn about AI, that we all be a part of the conversation, and influence how it is developed.
Now is the time.
Well, that’s it for section 4. Section 5, starting Day 21, we finally get to talk about AI in Application — stay tuned.