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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


This post is not about metaphysics as many of the posts on this page are.. It is something u must be knowing...

Every one of you must be having a weakness for something. Someone 's crazy bout programing in computers. some one likes bikes..etc..
Similarly my passion is "Airplanes".
Airplanes have always fascinated me from the beginning. When i was small i told dad to take me to the Bhubaneswar airport in the weekends to see the airplanes landing n take off.
FLYING.. Is what people "do" now a days. It has become a part of their lives. It's no more a luxury to fly as it was to hold a cell phone in the early nineties.
Over a century ago , when two ambitious cycle mechanics "The Wright Brothers" first shared the idea of flying with their friends .. they just laughed away at it. This made them more determined and they worked hard and succeeded in making a FLYING MACHINE " THE WRIGHT FLIER" from the scrap they had in their shop.It was a single engine aircraft which could fly at a height of a few meters . Though their first flight at Kitty Hawk on 17th December, 1903 lasted for seconds.. but it was enough to start a new era for the mankind. Within years the aeroplanes were used almost everywhere.. for transport, for rescue, for met studies..and for WARS.
Coming to the actual point , today there are aeroplanes which are run by super computers. Super sonic airplanes have become a thing of past. You might be knowing of CONCORD which reached 1.9 Mach during trans-Atlantic flights in the late eighties. (Though it is phased out from active service now). Today there are fighter planes which carry laser guided fire 'n' forget missiles. Moreover there are aircrafts like the B-2 spirit bombers which can take off from the USA , bomb the "Tora-Bora" hills in Afghanistan and return home on the same day without the need for refuelling even once and without giving a single blip in the enemy's RADAR!! Planes have also reached Hypersonic speeds( greater than 5 mach) in some test flights. Within 100 years man could increase his speed from a mere 60 km/hr( on a horse) to 5 machs !!ALso there are fighter aircrafts like the F-22 raptor which have "Thrust Vectoring Technology" which moves the exhaust nozzle in the required direction for better acceleration and maneuvering. Now-a-days Airplanes completely made up of Carbon Fibre have been built. ( ex. LCA (Tejas) of India has almost 90-95% carbon fibre which makes it the lightest multi role combat aircraft in the world.)



You also might have heard of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAV). The "Predator" ( an UAV of US) was extensively used during the IRAQ n Afghanistan wars. These aircrafts are controlled by pilots sitting comfortably in their home land and these intelligent airplanes just come n bomb n go.. The enemy never knows where did the bomb come from? No radar signatures, no noise, no infrared radiations.. India too boasts of having a powerful fleet of UAVs ( The "Lakshya") . The " Lakshya" was first test flown in Chandipur(The Interim Test Range) in my home state(Orissa).
Here i would like to ask a question : Is there the need of Pilots in today's airplanes? Can we leave these intelligent flying machines alone in the battle field? Can we rely on these brainy planes to carry hundreds of passengers safely across the pacific? Can these planes take split second decisions in combat zone and rescue operations??
Here the discussion is directed towards : Artificial Intelligence ~ Human Brain
Here's the OPEN question ..
CAN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE EVER REPLACE HUMAN in some vital JOBS like flying aeroplanes and surgery?(to name a few). OR SHOULD THEY BE RESTRICTED TO MUNDANE JOBS IN THE OFFICE and leave the humans to take up these "more important" jobs??


Lagnajeet_Das said...

Thank u Twish for reinviting me.

RG said...

A problem with AI is that the more complicated it gets, it does unexpected things. These "side-effects" may or may not be harmful though.

Arun Chaganty said...

Aah, now you've touched one of my passions.

The topic of whether AI can ever replace the human mind, has been a long standing one, since the beginning of the field itself. One of the main arguments centers around how could you judge whether an AI is truly intelligent (you could say the debate is: what is intelligence?)

Briefly, there are 4 sides to the argument, suitably highlighted:

1) Systems that *think* like *humans*
2) Systems that *act* like *humans*
3) Systems that *think* *rationally*
4) Systems that *act* *rationally*

I'm sure you can understand what I mean by a system. One of the most famous 'tests' in this region that you've most probably heard about is the Turing Test.

The Turing test basically states that if a robot (or a system) acts like a human one can not distinguish whether it is intelligent or not. The test is basically run like this: the robot/system is put under a series of tests (I believe they were verbal tests at the time), and the answers were relayed to a third-person. If the 3rd person believes that the output he receives is from a human (he doesn't know that it's a bot), then it passes the test.

So far, I don't think any system has actually qualified the test.

As to the main question, whether human intelligence could possibly replicated or not, it's absolutely unsure. There are camps on both sides. Right now, the development is mainly under the principle that consciousness (closely linked to intelligence) is realized through connections, and not through the neurons (or whatever implementation of neurons) itself. Neural networks is a good keyword.

Another main area of development are genetic algorithms. Algorithms that allow the system to evolve as it progress. I do see both neural nets and genetic algorithms put together.

Right now, no, the pilot can not be replaced entirely. If i'm not mistaken, most UAV's are largely automated, but can fallback to human control. Great pathfinding algorithms and all have been made, but when it comes to making rational decisions, the human counterpart still has to be there. I see that in the future we should have a large burden of the load of the pilot removed, and he has to be there as a supplier of intelligence (rather than skill).

Arun Chaganty said...

Just wanted to add, a good resource for the debate on whether consciousness can be emulated is at:

Shadows of the Mind
- Roger Penrose

I found it extremely hard to read, and I haven't actually read much of it, but its very promising nonetheless.

Also for general AI:

AI: A Modern Approach (often referred to as AI:AMA)
Russel and Norvig

This is a great textbook. I've just started it, but it gives a lot of information, and gives a lot of useful stuff about the algorithms (and their implementation is available freely from the book's website)

TwIsTeR said...

STAY TUnED ... for a post on the comment above