AI: It is coming

robotAI is an abbreviation for artificial intelligence, the code that programmers use to make computers think like and then act like humans. One type of AI that made the news a few years ago was a chess program that beat the human world chess champion. (My dad plays a lot of chess, even though he isn’t that good at it.) Now they have built chess computers that are smaller and have the same ability to win against the best human players.

Japan is a country that is doing a lot of cool stuff with AI. They have built robots that can work in hospitals and other robots that will act as a food server. If you follow what the Japanese are doing with AI you will discover some really useful applications that are both practical and innovative. I’m not sure about how much the technology costs or if they have any plans to mass produce some of these robots, but there is definitely a lot of experimenting going on over there.

Not that the United States isn’t doing things. I remember seeing a robot dog built by Google that was being tested. This guy was kicking this metal robot that looked a lot like a dog – four legs and all. It’s not like you would want to pet it or anything, but it definitely looked like a dog. The guy kicked it on its side and it fell over. Then, it got back up on its own using its four metal legs, just like a regular dog.

I don’t know about you, but watching that was really creepy. First, how did they get the robot to act like a dog? But then watching it you started to actually think of it as a dog. Somehow it didn’t seem right for the guy to be kicking it, even though it wasn’t really a living creature. But being American, the dog robot was being developed for military use to carry gear across different terrains. But it shows you where AI is going.

Wounded soldiers who are coming home from war are being fitted with bionic devices that respond just like the actual body part. Some technologies have sensors that detect the muscle movements and so know how to respond automatically. It’s pretty amazing stuff. Of course, it is also expensive, so unless you have a lot of money or can get into a program that will fit you with the device for cheap, it can’t be on your shopping list. Now that I think about it, I hope you never have to decide if you want one or not.

But AI is in many places, especially some of the newer home technologies. If you haven’t heard of IoT, it stands for the Internet of Things. Many manufacturers of home appliances are incorporating this technology that performs computing tasks without human interaction. For example, you might have a thermostat in your home that turns the furnace on at certain times during the day. Now consider an AI thermostat that will start the furnace after you walk in the door, and sets the temperature by reading how cold your skin is. After you warm up, then thermostat sensor reads your temperature again and lowers the heat. You do not need to do anything except install the device.

There is a future of AI, and the biggest companies in the world are starting to make it happen in all of our lives.