Forecasts for Artificial Intelligence; Artificial Intelligence May Become Not Only Smarter, but Also Wiser and More Independent. We Must Now Look Ahead and Prepare for the Impacts of Machines That May Merge with Us, Manage Us, Mimic Us, or Leave Us in the Dust

Article excerpt

When the great Czech writer Karel Capek wrote his famous play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in 1920, he invented the word robot and gave the world a vision of machine intelligence. Within about 40 years, at the 1956 Dartmouth University Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence, the new scientific discipline Artificial Intelligence was established on the principle that human learning and intelligence could be precisely described and potentially simulated by machines.

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AI development has now passed through three phases:

* Romantic period (1956-1965), whose best-known product, the General Problem Solver, performed various kinds of mathematical tasks.

* Ice age (1965-1980), when AI was not yet fully respected as a scientific discipline, but great progress was nevertheless made. Programming languages such as LISP and PROLOG were developed, and mathematical and logical models such as the Robinson resolution were discovered.

* Applications period (1980-present), when uses of AI techniques in military, industry, medicine, and other services have shown the financial sector that a new segment for investment is open.

What's next for artificial-intelligence development and applications? Here are a few possible scenarios incorporating new trends and discontinuities.

The Age of Merging (2010-2020)

* The United States, Germany, Japan, France, Ireland, Finland, and China represent the leading countries in high technology R&D.

* All laws enacted by legislatures in Washington and Brussels rely heavily on AI-based expert systems.

* Intelligent computers and telecommunication networks allow voice command for 3-D Internet, radio and television, mobile phones, medical care, and other services.

* Intelligent computers and telecommunication networks dominate the pedagogical process.

* As information technologies, biotechnologies, and nanotechnologies merge, so do the scientific disciplines developing them.

* Direct human--Internet communication is made possible with an implanted chip (later, without chips).

* New discoveries lead to quantum and DNA computers, as well as new materials incorporating low levels of intelligence.

* Antiviral programs destroy the occurrence of artificial life in order to avoid chaos like the blackouts that rocked Canada and the United States in August 2003.

* New laws are enacted to guarantee better health and vastly improved social well-being as AI development accelerates. …