Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3 2014: Robots are currently parking cars. Soon cars will drive themselves (in fact, they are already doing it experimentally). When will robots take over writing—and get fan mail? When will robots take over us? When will we become bionic robots and live vastly longer lives?

The job market of the future will consist of those jobs that robots cannot perform. Our blue-collar work is pattern recognition, making sense of what you see. Gardeners will still have jobs because every garden is different. The same goes for construction workers. The losers are white-collar workers, low-level accountants, brokers, and agents.

Michio Kaku

Travelers at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany don’t even have to park their cars anymore. Last week the airport begin a using self-driving robot that resembles a forklift to deliver some cars to and from an appropriate parking space.

The idea is to get business travelers in and out of an airport as quickly and easily as possible. A driver can pull into a transfer station at the parking lot entrance and leave their car after checking in on a digital touchscreen. Sensors in the station measure the dimensions of the vehicle, and send that information to one of the robots. The robot, called Ray, adjusts its arms to fit the new vehicle, then drives to the transfer station and slides its arms around the tires to lift the vehicle off the ground.

The electric-powered Rays travel at speeds up to 6 mph. Each Ray drives autonomously, guided by laser navigation and mapping software. The Ray knows its exact location thanks to its lasers that bounce off reflectors positioned throughout the garage.

Chief executive Rupert Koch claims using the Ray can increase a parking structure’s capacity by 40 percent. He credits this to more efficiently parking cars, by putting small cars with small cars, and large cars with large cars. For travelers, the convenience costs $40 a day or $5.50 an hour. The current pricing for the parking service, called Premium Plus, is fairly comparable to other options at the airport (full prices here).

Actually, robots—well, software, to be more precise (though it might be rather fun to construct an appropriately hard drinking, angst ridden writer robot) is already parsing financial reports and the like—and turning in quite acceptable functional text.

Will it progress to formula genre books—think Romance; Westerns; Porn etc. ? I think it probably will—and you can include formula TV screenplays and movies.

Will it progress to the well-written novel? Well, I doubt it will in the balance of my lifetime (I’m 70 as I write this). After that, I guess I’ll have other concerns.

Frankly, I have no idea. Best guess is that really good writing will always find a place—but I also think intelligent software is going to truly amaze us.

Front CoverKeep an eye out for Ray Kurzweil’s great book THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR. What is ‘The Singularity?’ This is what Wiki says.

The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature.[1] Because the capabilities of such an intelligence may be difficult for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is often seen as an occurrence (akin to a gravitational singularity) beyond which the future course of human history is unpredictable or even unfathomable.[2]

The first use of the term "singularity" in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. In 1958, regarding a summary of a conversation with von Neumann,Stanislaw Ulam described "ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue".[3]

The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity.[4]

Futurist, and inventor of the portable reading machine for the blind, Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann's use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann's classic The Computer and the Brain.

Proponents of the singularity typically postulate an "intelligence explosion",[5][6] where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, that might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent's cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human.

Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045[7] whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030.[8] At the 2012 Singularity Summit, Stuart Armstrong did a study of artificial general intelligence (AGI) predictions by experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040. Discussing the level of uncertainty in AGI estimates, Armstrong said in 2012, "It's not fully formalized, but my current 80% estimate is something like five to 100 years."[9]

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