The machines are a-coming
Authored by: Monica  

Actually, in hindsight, that title is a little misleading! Machines have always been part of our lives. Go back to the 3rd century BC and you know that Archimedes talked about levers and pulleys which basically are simple machines. Even though machines have been around since time immemorial, it is perhaps now that we are all waking up to the fact that they can actually replace men and women in quite a few ways.


Once again, this thought or concept is not a new one either. Take the year 1760, for instance. This was when the industrial revolution made its presence felt in the manufacturing sector. Before this, it was literally “man power” all the way. If anything had to be made, then a human being actually sat down and made it by his or her hand. The Industrial Revolution brought in all kinds of machines, technology in terms of production processes and even introduced steam power to the world.


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The Industrial Revolution impacted almost all facets and aspects of life. It also resulted in huge technological developments in areas such as chemical manufacturing, production of machine tools itself, agriculture and manufacture of textiles to name just a few. It also had its fallout in the social realm of a human being. Standards of living, nutrition and even accessibility of better housing all marked a significant progress in the way human beings lived.


Probably one of the biggest extensions of this change was in the growth of technology and machines of all kinds. Today, we are talking about cutting edge science in the world of robotics. People often talk about real intelligence and artificial intelligence. Believe it or not, AI is no longer in the realm of science fiction movies. It is there in the way in which you choose to make online payments. It is certainly there in the robots that the automobile industry uses. It is also there in the way search engines such as Google make changes to web page ranking.


 The questions then remain – will robots actually replace men? Have they already done so? Will the new teams of the future consist of human beings and robots working together? How will it impact the way human beings live? Unfortunately, there are no cut and dried answers to any of the questions. But, it is indeed interesting to see how the future evolves because artificial intelligence is a potentially volatile animal.


Can you imagine a society in the future where a human being is not even involved in controlling these robots? Will there be a ‘master robot’ to control ‘supervisor robots’ who in turn control ‘employee or worker robots’? Will it also mean a rise in technological wars? Because, at the end of the day if I have a superb algorithm in place or a cutting-edge program in mind, I may be able to take over the robots of the world!


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How does one stave off the robot wave? As Neil Jacobstein, head of artificial intelligence at Singularity University states, artificial intelligence is actually part of everyday life and human beings actually will have to become more like robots. Interestingly, he makes a rather valid point in stating that people’s brains have not actually had a “major upgrade” for the past 50,000 years. That is some food for thought all right! Here is something else that we can all think about – would silicon run through our brain cells and make us more robotic somewhere in the near future? The machines are certainly a-coming but whether it is going to mean a total ‘takeover’ is anybody’s guess indeed!

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