Man. Machine…and an uncertain future

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human versus machine

Originally published in The Gulf News 

Once upon a time, on a day dating back, a few decades were a race of mankind who woke up to the alarm of their body clocks.  Every day was governed by the vicious cycle of a routine. Daily chores ranged from hand washing every piece of laundry to using the mortar and pedestal to grind spice mixes and batter, fresh butter was hand-churned from buttermilk and cooking was a herculean task atop firewood stoves. Children spent hours climbing trees and exploring backyards when they were not at school and the only time spent at home were to sleep and eat. Social gatherings meant a day spent talking to each other enjoying a good meal, song, and dance in the company of dear ones.

On this day, can we phantom a single day without the machines that govern our life?  These wonder gizmos that make jobs simply disappear with a click of a button or connect us to the world with a touch of a finger or kill long hours entertaining our lonely spirits with songs, movies, and games.

Machines have gradually taken up our jobs helping us put man’s time, energy and skill to better use.  Whether it is an electric washing machine transforming hour-long task into a job accomplished with the push of a button or power tools and gadgets that make construction immensely efficient or computers that make complex calculations look effortless, machines are indispensable.

The advent of artificial intelligence and robotics have given us limitless ability to explore the unknown without having to worry about its consequences.  Space explorations have best been carried out with the help of this technology where robots give scientists a visual experience of terrains that are inhospitable to us. Robots have aided the exploration of the vast expanse of the unchartered territory in the deepest depths of seas and oceans. On the medical front, robots are used to aid complex surgeries, improvising both patient care and rehabilitation; a combination of robotics coupled with cutting-edge communication technology have made remote surgeries a possibility. Robots have been used in locations where man’s reach is limited as in the aftermath of accidents in mines, oil rigs, and nuclear power plants or in an event of a natural disaster like an earthquake or post a hurricane disaster. Scientists predicting the availability of self-driven vehicles in the near future are proof as to how far we have advanced in this field.

These man-made contraptions can outstrip human abilities in terms of memory, navigation and search yet lack the reliability, flexibility, creative intelligence and sensitivities of a human mind.

Will man’s ambitious thirst for further advancement in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics challenge human supremacy?

Will the need for automation of jobs that require increased precision or those that require routine repetitive physical or mental work leave a class of workforce unemployed?

Expecting a machine close to the creative intelligence of a human mind in the near future seems implausible but only time can tell what bigger breakthroughs await the future of artificial intelligence.

Expecting a machine close to the creative intelligence of a human mind in the near future seems implausible but only time can tell what bigger breakthroughs await the future of artificial intelligence.

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