14 Aug Just Released: Robot Attitude by John Patrick
AI in Healthcare –
If you are a pessimist and revel in the gloom and doom the future may hold, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) can add a lot of fodder. Robots are mostly in manufacturing plants today, but their presence is growing in many other places, including hospitals, restaurants, retail stores, and homes. Millions of jobs will be replaced by robots. AI will become pervasive in finance, insurance, and legal companies, healthcare, and educational institutions replacing lawyers, accountants, financial analysts, radiologists, teachers, and professors. As robots and AI get smarter, some believe there may not be much left for humans to do. Ultimately, the robots and AI could merge, and form a new population of super strong and super intelligent beings. The new beings may look back at history and see how humans have wiped out numerous species over time.[i] Then, they may conclude humans are no longer needed. The End.
Some experts believe what I describe in the opening paragraph is a very real threat. They believe humanity is at great risk. The late Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. He told the BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”[ii]Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla and SpaceX, said, “If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea. In the end the machines will win.”[iii]
Musk and other thought leaders have formed a billion-dollar non-profit company called OpenAI to work toward safer AI.[iv] OpenAI’s mission is to provide guidelines to build safe AI and help ensure AI’s benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible. OpenAI expects AI technologies to be hugely beneficial in the short term, but in the long term, if not created properly and with appropriate regulation, it sees the potential for great harm. OpenAI is working to develop principles which can prevent damage to society.
I believe the opening paragraph is a pessimistic view. I have an optimistic view, at least in the near term, about robots and AI. I believe the future is bright. This belief is the subject of Robot Attitude: How Robots and AI Will Make Our Lives Better. A robot attitude is one with which we embrace the new technology, not fear it and fight it. The new technology is coming. I will describe how it can improve productivity, make things easier, make our homes incredibly smart, add convenience, improve safety in dangerous jobs, enhance all aspects of healthcare, and much more.
Every segment of our business and personal lives will experience transformations. For example, with the introduction of robots and AI into the home, we will see healthcare rise to a higher level as robots and AI will assist with clinical services such as stroke rehabilitation. A humanoid robot will be a welcome companion to chronically ill homebound patients.
I have been thinking about writing this book for several years. Research for the book has been enlightening but also has reminded me of many of my early technology based hobbies. I started with toys and blocks, but they were much more than toys and blocks to me. They had practical purposes. The earliest building experience I can recall was with Lincoln Logs. Then came Erector Sets. There were no Lego construction sets when I was a child but, if there had been, I would surely have been an enthusiastic builder. Chemistry sets, junior scientist kits, and amateur radio piqued my interest. In my adult years, the trend continued with GPS, digital cameras, personal digital assistants, personal computers, home automation, 3-D printing, virtual reality goggles, airplanes, motorcycles, electric cars, and now robots and AI.
Currently, robot and AI technologies are different from each other. I treat them as two separate topics. My overarching goal in the book is to make robots and AI understandable. The technology is incredibly powerful but extremely complicated. I did my best to avoid using technical jargon. The extraordinary growth of storage and computational power in the cloud, combined with reliable high-speed Internet service and ubiquitous connectivity, have made things possible which were science fiction a few years ago. I will break down the technology to the component level, describe how it works, what it can do for businesses, homes, and organizations of any type, and share my vision about implications for the future.
New developments in Robot and AI technologies are happening every day. The topics are expansive and cannot be covered comprehensively in one reasonably sized book. I have done my best to provide a robust bibliography and links in the Notes section near the end of the book. If some of the things I have written about aroused your interest, you can fire up your favorite search engine and dig as deeply as you would like. You can also visit robotattitude.info, the companion website to this book. The site has videos, articles, and courses where you can explore, learn more, and find important developments after Robot Attitude was published. You will find references to the site throughout the book. I hope Robot Attitude whets your appetite to learn more.
[i] Elijah Wolfson, “Humans Comprise Just 0.01% of the Total Weight of Life on Earth, but Have Destroyed Far More,” Quartz (2018), https://qz.com/1290434/human-comprise-0-01-of-the-total-weight-of-life-on-earth-but-are-responsible-for-killing-nearly-all-wild-mammals/
[ii] Rory Cellan-Jones, “Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind,” BBC (2014), https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540
[iii] Lisa Marie Segarra, “Elon Musk: AI Poses ‘Vastly More Risk Than North Korea’,” Fortune (2017), http://fortune.com/2017/08/12/elon-musk-ai-poses-vastly-more-risk-than-north-korea/
[iv] Maureen Dowd, “Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse,” Hive (2017), https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/03/elon-musk-billion-dollar-crusade-to-stop-ai-space-x