Sunday, August 01, 2010

Endhiran and the possibilities

Thanks to Endhiran and its translations in Telugu and Hindi, there will be more talk on what all can a Robot do or can't do in the days to come.  As a below average student of computer science, I set out to think through what are the possibilities.  Here is my serious below-average analysis of the possibilities.

The Sense of I
My favorite topic.  What do humans mean by their sense of self?  There is  physiological self, that is one's identification with his/her body.  And there is the psychological self - that one identifies himself as a Hindu, Tamil, Communist, Educated, CEO etc.  I believe both are possibilities with machines.  I use the term machine to refer to the Robots with their knowledge base and their decision support systems.

Physiological Self of a Machine:  The physiological self is to present to protect itself - that an organism is not simply a collection of sensory organs, but something that coordinates actions between the organs.  To start with, the physiological self could be defined for the first few generations of machines by their creators - the humans.  Later generations may be able to build upon it and define the physiological self better.

Psychological Self of a Machine:  Our psychological self got created out of factors like geography, languages, roles and responsibilities and beliefs created by generations of knowledge acquisition.  The same is possible with machines.  Again, the first few generations of psychological self could be influenced by the humans that created them.  The human mindset has been expanding from its early tribal one.  So, the machines may start with a higher level of identity.  There could be US machines, Chinese, Russian and Indian machines, each dealing with the data associated with respective regions.

Collective Consciousness
It is said that the collective intelligence is many times stronger than the sum of individual intelligence.  If that's the case, an advanced robot  would start at a slightly higher level of intelligence than the average human intelligence.  And there will be a need to connect these machines as well.  As the connections increase, their collective intelligence would increase too.

Would robots harm humans?
If we see robots as evolution of humans, this is a possibility.  If there was a time in history when neanderthals and humans co-existed,  there was a high chance that humans might have harmed neanderthals.  Fear, space and food insecurity might have resulted in the fights.  Can man's fear of machines trigger an insecurity for machines and result in fights?