True Artificial Intelligence not so far away

True Artificial Intelligence not so far away

True Artificial Intelligence not so far away

Updated 8 February 2013, 11:36 AEST

Scientists say we're closing in on the artificial intelligence seen in movies faster than we think.

In the world of Hollywood films, technology seems mind-bogglingly out of reach.

But scientists say we're closing in on what we see in the movies faster than we think.

Scientists already have the ability to create a robot that looks like a human and learns in the same way.

Scientist and Monash University professor, Kevin Korb, has been teaching students about artificial intelligence for 20 years.

Mr Korb says the goal of producing a human-like intelligence is "very far away".

He says different sorts of artificial intelligence are used to help control automobiles and military weaponry, and this will continue to grow.

It's a long way from the first great AI win, when a computer called Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Deloitte Digital's Frank Farrall says the most game-changing advancement in artificial intelligence has been in phone technology.

Mr Farrall says smartphones put artificial intelligence into the hands of hundreds of millions of consumers every year.

The next iteration of [phone technology] is being able to speak to a device and it having a level of intelligence to then be able to carry out a function.

Frank Farrall, Deloitte Digital

He believes the competition in this industry is helping to push the boundaries.

"You're basically seeing an arms race with technology companies, particularly in that smartphone environment, and basically you've got to deliver the best user experience," he told Australia Network's Newsline.

"As interfaces evolve we've gone from punch-cards to GUI's [graphical user interface] to now touchscreens and swiping.

"The next iteration of that is being able to speak to a device and it having a level of intelligence to then be able to carry out a function."

Scientists using AI to advance technology Video: Scientists using AI to advance technology (Newsline)

Human intuition

Although the development of intelligent virtual personal assistants like Apple's Siri and more recently Skyphase were hailed as a giant step into the future, they lack one critical feature - human intuition.

The motor industry is racing ahead, and is creating cars that are not only more intuitive, but can literally drive themselves.

China recently successfully tested its first completely automatic car, developed by China's Military Transportation University.

Car manufacturers are secretly testing new AI innovations all the time and say the technology being developed is all about making cars safer.

One of the most innovative of these features is autonomous emergency braking.

Barloworld Volkswagen's Serge Zhevelyuk says autonomous emergency braking depends on a car being able to sense other cars in front of it.

"If the car in front stops accidentally or emergency braking pretty much, your car will realise that and it will apply a little bit of pressure on your brakes," he says.

"If it will realise you're not applying any brakes whatsoever it will try to stop the vehicle for you."

Brain drain

Computer scientist and Australian National University professor, Marcus Hutter, says it is possible that artificially intelligent machines and robots may soon be doing everything for us.

"Maybe more and more we will delegate to the machines and there might be a point that you think about, 'Oh, I haven't used my own brain in the last two years...Maybe I don't need it anymore and I'm even comfortable with this'," he says.

Others question whether we will ever be able to equal the intelligence of the human brain - an object that has between 10 and 100 billion neurons, around 70,000 thoughts a day, and can control and read real emotions.

Neuroscientists behind the Blue Brain Project in Switzerland believe they can.

Once we achieve an AI other than by simulation, the possibility exists that the artificial intelligence will rapidly turn into a super intelligence and they will be out of our control

Kevin Korb, Monash University professor

The project is aiming to rebuild a human brain neuron by neuron, creating a virtual brain in a super-computer.

But Kevin Korb says its not the ideal way of producing an artificial intelligence.

"If you're just simulating what nano-recorders tell us about what the human brain is doing, that doesn't necessarily give us an understanding of the processes that are going on inside," he says.

"It just sort of allows us to reproduce them."

But Kevin Korb and Marcus Hutter believe that one day we will find a path to not only equalling human intelligence, but exceeding it.

Mr Farrall says we may end up in a situation where machines become smarter than humans, and humans could end up playing "second fiddle".

Mr Korb says it is important that human-generated AI's be given genuine ethics.

"Once we achieve an AI other than by simulation, the possibility exists that the artificial intelligence will rapidly turn into a super intelligence and they will be out of our control."