The World Future Society has released
their 2003 Forecast. The
WFS experts say we'll have AI Priests in 2004, designer babies in 2005,
video tattoos in 2010, robot insects to pollinate crops in 2012,
plaque-eating nanobots in our toothpaste by 2020, and, of course, the
first bionic olympics by 2030. If those predictions are too mundane, the
Weekly World News reports that Super-Robots
will wipe out mankind soon but it won't matter because the
sun will explode in 6 years.
A priest (exempting the Catholic defination) is someone who can talk
with God. I'm curious to know how they've figured out how to create a
robot which can communicate with God? Wouldn't that be a feat? Really
what I think they mean is that they've created a electronic statue that
you can talk to and tell all of your deep dark secrets to and which will
wait until you stop speaking and then can say something like, "OK
whatever you say my child, now I prescribe that you go and do the rosery
rand(x) number of times, and say rand(x) number of hail marys, etc. and
your sins will be forgiven." It'll be interesting to see if anyone
really accepts that nonsense. Ok so even if they don't call it a
"Priest" but just a "councellor," how can a robot be programmed to give
any good advice when even humans don't always know how to prescribe good
advice? Awe, I guess it doesn't really matter since the Sun will
explode soon? Boom baby!
Some of these predictions are reasonable, but most of them - especially
the ones about robots destroying mankind - are pure fantasy.
In my view it's a sad that some of these so-called "AI experts" are so
completely divorced from the reality of actual AI research that they
often come out with this sort of garbage. I think they're doing it
purely for cheap publicity, usually to boost book sales or attract
short-term funding for their department.
I have some respect for Moravec because he's done good work in the past
(including stuff on stereo vision) but I doubt that even he believes
that there will be a robot takeover "in a few years".
The problems in AI are big. Really big. And although progress has
been made over the last 50 years there are no signs that we're in for
any huge breakthroughs within the next few years. Human level
intelligence I think is still a long way off. People like Steve Grand
may claim to have new technologies in the making, but I think it's
important to maintain a healthy scientific skepticism and judge people
by their actual results rather than any speculations they may make.