Automation

Artificial Intelligence – Can a Robot Ever Be Intelligent?

I was recently reminded of of a Robot developed by Sony a few years ago called QRIO (Quest for Curiosity). The device had some awesome unique features like the ability to recognise people’s faces and the ability to deal with emotional responses such as anger ¬†or annoyance. One of the most amazing things about the machine is that it has the ability learn.

It occurs to me though that as intelligent as QRIO may seem, and despite the fact that it can copy and remember behaviour the robot is not truly intelligent because it doesn’t have the ability to make independent decisions – it simply does what it is programmed to do. We must therefore consider what we really mean when referring to an intelligent technology and question if technology can ever be truly intelligent.

Aristotle said:

There is only one condition in which we can imagine managers not needing subordinates, and masters not needing slaves. This would be if every machine could work by itself, at the word of command or by intelligent anticipation.

It is possible for programmes to be written that can emulate intelligent anticipation. An example would be a Central Heating system that can be programmed to maintain a certain temperature within a set environment. The system anticipates when the consumer is likely to want to turn the heating on, responds to the environmental change and performs the task.

This is not, however, true intelligent anticipation because the system only reacts when a set of pre-programmed conditions are evaluated as true. To be intelligent the system would have to decide what the required temperature was without any human intervention.

It occurs to me that even if such a system were technically possible consumers would react negatively as the concept comes close to the Big Brother totalitarian state described by Orwell in his Novel Nineteen Eighty Four.

Darwin’s theory of Evolution demonstrates that the human race has evolved into an intelligent species, embracing inteligence to survive; it could be argued that truly inteligent systems are the next stage of human evolution and could be used as a self protection mechanism to assist our survival.

Until technology enables this evolutionary shift we much resign ourselves to devising methods of control for automated systems that make working with technology more convenient for the consumer, while recognising that sometimes a task does not require automation because the consumer is content with the current solution, or because society is not yet ready to embrace the long term possibilities or consequences.

If you want to find out more about QRIO check out these links:

Categories: Automation, Robots, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Responding to customer feedback

Some of the regular readers of this blog will know that I recently had a bad experience shopping at Audi Cheshire Oaks. I thought it only fair to Audi to update readers on action taken since I blogged about the experience.

First of all well done Audi – I was contacted via twitter, they apologised and asked for my contact details and promised to look into it – so far so good – definitely on the right track to making me happy.

They even followed through – I had a phone call from the sales man that I spoke to in the showroom who was vey apologetic and wanted to put things rights. Slightly frustrated that I had to explain to him what I wanted a quote for (again) having told him all of the details 10 days earlier during my visit to the showroom – but I guess you can’t expect everything to be perfect.
The difference this time is that he followed it up by actually sending me the quote – It seems third time really is lucky – Certainly more proactive …..

So after all of that am I going to do a deal with the company? In honesty probably not – at least not from Audi Cheshire Oaks ….. To my mind if this is the service you get prior to making a purchase then I dread to think what the after sales service will be like but it is comforting to know that Audi as a company do take complaints seriously and do seem to act upon them – that means that I’m definitely not put off Audi as a company – to my mind that is successful damage limitation for which the company must be commended.

Anyone else had any good or bad experiences?

Categories: Automation, Customer Service, Technology, Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Automation

Bill Gates Once Said

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

Over recent years automation has become a feature of day to day life and our lives are now often assisted or even controlled by technology.

A prime example of this is an automatic toilet found on many high streets. After each use the toilet is programmed to clean itself saving thousands of pounds on maintenance and is arguably more hygienic because it is cleaned after every use.

It occurs to me that automated systems are no longer reserved for the world of the production line and that the general public are now the largest consumer base for automated systems – how many things are automated, for example in your house? Central Heating? Oven Timer? Lights? ….. if you think about it you can probably compile quite a long list.

My favourite example is Auto Cleaner – the automatic vacuum cleaner (iTorchless 2009). The robot can be placed in a room and periodically will detach itself from the base unit, vacuum the floor taking care to go round corners and avoid obstacles. When the task is complete the machine will re-dock and perform the task again a few hours later.

The question that I think we must ask ourselves is what would happen if some of this technology went wrong? I guess an automated light failing to switch on wouldn’t be particularly drastic, but what if your heating failed to switch on in the middle of winter leading to a burst pipe?

This begs the question ….. are we becoming too reliant on technology to assist with our every day lives? What do you think?

Categories: Automation, Invention, Technology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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