What is it about Artificial Intelligence (A.I) and robots that have become a topic fear mongered around the world? For most people, the idea of a computer or machinery capable of its own thought process brings the fear of massive layoffs as machines take over humans in menial tasks. Sometimes these fears are exacerbated by unrealistic futuristic movie scenarios of robots taking over humanity as the dominant race.
Even Elok Musk, technology’s poster boy, is wary of AI and has previously claimed that it is “humanity’s biggest existential threat”. All is not doom and gloom however, as AI has been significantly changing the way humanity lives for the better. AI, like electricity or the steam engine, is a general purpose technology and as such has actually been utilised in numerous fields for years.
By virtue of using Facebook alone, you are interacting with AI on a daily basis. There are three main divisions of AI – neural networks, machine learning and deep learning. In business, AI has been used for menial tasks such as process automation, cognitive insight and cognitive engagement. From chatbots leading you to a series of Frequently Asked Questions to transferring your call data into a company’s database, AI have been saving millions of hours in menial tasks for businesses.
In the automobile industry, despite the fears raised by Elon Musk, AI is used by Tesla Motors to crowdsource data from its vehicles for improvements. In agriculture, AI is used to recognise patterns in weather changes and predict upcoming risks to crop production. AI will also be present in our lives in a more intimate manner in our homes with adaptations of it in NEST, a learning thermostat that was acquired by Google in January of 2014 for $3.2 billion. However, these are what is considered as “weak” AI, they simply act upon a set of predetermined commands and are bound by the rules imposed on them.
In contrast, the AI that comes to mind to many people and thought of fearfully are strong AIs, a form of machine intelligence that is thought to be equal to human intelligence. Some of their key characteristics is the ability to reason, solve puzzles, make judgments, plan, learn and communicate. By giving a body to these strong AIs, we essentially can create a sentient machine which is able to function similarly to a human and embodies human-like traits. This is how groundbreaking robots such as Sophia was born, and soon, these robots will be capable of human thought and mannerism.
Sophia, despite being one of the first of its kind, is not alone. Malaysia has been developing a sentient robot with strong AI in it, dubbed as Advanced Development Autonomous Machine (ADAM). ADAM is the brainchild of Robopreneur Sdn Bhd, a local robotics company based in Cyberjaya under the mentorship of Futurise. Funded by Futurise, the agency responsible to lead the development of futuristic innovation ecosystem, ADAM has fulfilled its first year milestone recently which is a part of its three-phased milestones.
ADAM encapsulates the different potential of Industrial Revolution 4.0 as its development includes the complex machinery development, robotic design and motion control. Internally, its advanced computing, sensing fusion and A.I showcases Malaysia’s ability to shine in IR 4.0, particularly in our robotics and software computing fields. Futurise has been responsible for the futureproofing of technological innovation in Malaysia including developing cutting-edge technology such as ADAM to spearhead Malaysia’s goal of becoming the leading innovator in ASEAN.
There have been numerous concerns with the ethical aspects of sentient robots such as ADAM and Sophia, such as the calls to boycott Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) when they started the research on killer robots. As humanity grapples with the ethics of developing more strong AIs and giving them mobility by incorporating them in mechanical robots, agencies like Futurise remain positive and steadfast in pushing the boundaries of science and technology today.
What remains constant is that improving the standard of living for all humanity and changing the way we do things for the better is the dream of every innovator. Although they are not the panacea to humanity’s critical issues, A.Is and robots are the way forward with this. In Malaysia, Futurise wishes to lead the nation towards a better way of life by embracing the wave of the future with the latest technology, starting with ADAM.
Much like the Space Race, the global race for the advancement of robots and A.I will shape the face of the future and determine which country stays ahead of in the era of IR 4.0. Moving into the next phase of Malaysian progress in this industry, Futurise calls on other local companies to challenge the status quo and rise with the existing competition to continuously develop the robotics and A.I field here. Like its namesake, ADAM will be the pioneer and open up limitless possibilities for Malaysian robotics in the future.