What is it that is so special about the act of creation? Mankind has the special gift to be able to create tools, and especially in the mechatronics world, machines. We create art, literature, architecture, sculpture, all sorts of things.
In the machine age, and especially as we enter the intelligent machine age, we need to pause and consider the implications of intelligence in the equipment we design and manufacture. Intelligence in this context has been very narrowly defined to comprise operating sequences and parameters of performance. Many modern systems are capable of adapting to changing conditions, sometimes an array of similar products can be produced from one machine, and most often, modern production machinery often has complex diagnostics to help keep equipment running.
All of these different layers of programming and performance require intelligence, of a sort, to be programmed into the control system. Do any of these applications pass the Turing Test? Of course not. Manufacturing applications rarely exhibit the level of complexity that would require the sophistication of voice interaction. On the other hand there are many applications in material handling that use voice interface. Voice activates systems are still a very small minority of applications in the automation world.
However, we know that the situation is changing. Robots are widely applied to manufacturing floor applications because they have been engineered to operate in close proximity with human beings without damage to the people, and with damage to each other. The interface to these high level systems is still through a “teach pendent”, generally in the form of a high tech touch screen/pendent assembly. But how long will that go on until some clever software engineering makes voice input less expense than a tablet, and stereo infrared sensors can accurately measure gestures.
Makes you think.
To what extent does our next generation of “intelligent” machinery mimic human behavior instead of being strictly limited to behavior of fetching parts, or putting finished products into packages. It is not hard to imagine.
And the more difficult question, as machine control and robotic systems become more complex, how do our individual personalities and characters manifest in theses systems. Does artificial intelligence come with character flaws and quirks? Or is the perfection of processor technology going to translate to perfect robots and perfect systems.
Anyone with experience in the applied systems in manufacturing knows that nothing is perfect. But the notion of how imperfection will manifest in artificial intelligence systems in the completely unknown.
Whatever it is, it’s going to be interesting.