Next Forms of Intelligence

Jennifer Buss

Like it or not, we’re entering an era where we may not be the most intelligent beings on this planet. No, I’m not talking about aliens, rather the emergence of artificial intelligence.

The use of the term artificial in this term is a bit out of context. We really should consider this a new form of intelligence. It is not fake, it is very real. It might not have a body but the output of the intelligence is the same output that we have as humans (and other animals).

We are at the crux for this transition into a new form of intelligence. We have spent decades creating all the tools necessary to make this evolution. The intersection of biology, computers, nanoscience, and neuroscience have brought about a new intelligence. Each of these technology areas have had their own revolutions in past decades and we are entering the neuroscience revolution as we speak. Multiple revolutions over the past decade(s) have led us to have the ability to create the next form of intelligence – artificial or not. Biological revolution provided advances in genetic manipulation. Computer science revolution led to faster chips, less power, and sophisticated programming; humans do less work because of computers. Nanoscience allows us to create new materials from the bottom up – both in biology and electronics. Current advances in neuroscience afford us insight into the human brain, taking advantage of the past revolutions’ technologies and developing new methods of increased performance. The strengths of each of these revolutions are accumulating to provide us the capabilities to build intelligent forms.

The next form of intelligence will arrive in one of four ways building on the past revolutions:

  1. Emerging from machines linked together

This is how many describe an artificial intelligence. Connect enough computing power with enough information and an intelligent being will emerge. Of the four options, this is the least likely for us to see in our lifetime. (more on this in the next blog)

  1. Computer simulated human behavior

Society is collecting enough information on each person where it is possible to know how a person speaks, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and their favorite pastimes. Knowing all of the “big data” information will allow a computer program to simulate every individual’s behavior. This program can act like their human, it will have its own intelligence. We will not be able to distinguish between the human and the clone.

  1. A learning computer program

Humans have been creating technology from the very beginning to make our lives easier. We are at the very beginning of creating programs that can do things for us – personal assistant, automated protocols, robots, etc. we are creating these programs to learn as they go and correct themselves for optimization. These programs will be able to learn faster than any human and work at the speed of the internet. They won’t ever need sleep and will generate their own personalities.

  1. Enhanced humans

The last frontier in biology is focused on the human brain. Industry is creating technologies to enhance human performance. Genetic research is providing new techniques to manipulate human appearance and behavior. We will soon be able to increase the baseline human intelligence through advanced neurotechnology devices. The first humans to adopt the technology will have a significant advantage over others. Each day we are seeing significant developments in new neurotechnology; the day when humans have chips in their heads are not far away.

The next intelligence brings excitement and apprehension. Each form of intelligence will exist and arrive differently. We need to be aware that these four types of new intelligence are simultaneously being researched and tested leading us into unchartered territory. We have the power to determine what we want this to become.  The questions are: what do we want and how do we get there?

On Military Robots

Patrick Cheetham

The Department of Defense is shrinking funding to military robots while robots are becoming more capable and ubiquitous every day. The US needs to invest in developing these technologies and we should look towards the future in ways that keep us superior and counter potential uses against our own systems.

Robots afford considerable advantages in warfare by extending military reach and power projection. They also change the risk-benefit calculation for successful operations. Generally, a robot can be defined as a machine that has some degree of autonomy and the ability to sense, perceive, and act in or on its environment. Yet, this definition and basic understanding of robots does not adequately describe the revolution occurring in robotic technologies that are truly transforming industries and national security as we know it.

DoD funding in recent years has been sluggish, while the utility of military robots has increased. From a high in 2011 of $6.6 billion, the proposed 2014 budget for unmanned systems was just about $4.1 billion. This significant decrease is counterintuitive to the increasing capabilities that robotics provide for DoD. The most newsworthy robots are unmanned aerial vehicles, which grab headlines for their ability to loiter, surveil, and kill targets (for example, they are being used in the current campaign against ISIL). Robots are not just doing dull, dangerous, or dirty tasks; they are dominating the air and quickly becoming a force multiplier. On the ground or in the maritime environment, they inspect and disarm IEDs, carry supplies, enable communications, and use EW to jam and spoof other machines. Robots with stronger artificial intelligence, medical and surgical capabilities, and the ability to incapacitate high value targets could provide even more function for the warfighter in the future.

The ubiquity of robotic technologies in commercial, civil, and national security sectors challenges the US held monopoly on military specific robots. It is estimated that at least 75 to 87 countries are investing in military unmanned systems. Military investment in the Asian region alone will grow by 67% to 2018, totaling almost $2.4 billion per year. A low barrier to entry for makers, nation states, and terrorists is possible because of decreasing costs of enabling technologies. Robert Work and Shawn Brimley point out that advanced computing, big data, autonomy, artificial intelligence, miniaturization, and small high-density power systems in the consumer and service industries advance the development of military robots. A common robotic operating system, cheaper hardware, and 3D printing also contribute to accessibility. Widespread knowledge and availability have given nefarious actors the ability to use machines. For example, the terrorist group Hezbollah has successfully fielded drones and plots using UAVs strapped with bombs. Most strikingly, China has “developed” UAVs with uncanny resemblance to the US-made MQ-9 Reaper.

Technology superiority is a cornerstone of US national security strategy but is being challenged in the field of robotics by decreased budgets and technological diffusion. DoD has decreased investments in robots even though the costs and limits of manned systems make unmanned systems a wise acquisition decision. Robots can replace tasks and enhance our own superiority with an optimum balance between humans and machines. Smartly investing in military robot systems of the future will help the US maintain the technical edge it needs.