Sunday, 3 July 2016

Week 3: Robotics and Art

This week‘s topic was particular exciting for me, as the lectures dive deeper into the field of information technology and industrialization.

As Professor Vesna mentioned in her first lecture of robotics, the technology of movable type, introduced by Gutenberg to the western society in the sixteenth century, transformed the speed and breadth of knowledge precipitation, and advanced the growth of many other fields such as religion through religious manuscripts, science through textbooks, and art through the mass-publication of literature.
The Gutenberg Bible - a product of the movable type  
I found this phenomenon of knowledge production and its results to be fascinating. The theme of robotics and mechanization reminded me of a recent film I watched - The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum. This film was a biography of Alan Turing, an English computer scientist whose enigma machine led the British army to deciphering Nazi coded messages during the Second World War and the Allies to their eventually victory.

The enigma, otherwise known as the turing machine, is a perfect example of how industrialization enabled the mass-processing power and early "intelligence" of the embryonic computer. However, although this machine had allowed for the success of defeating a nation, people were nevertheless doubtful of its capabilities - or even the feasibility of its creation - prior to its birth. The English officials initially opposed the idea of relying on mechanical power, and wanted to abolish the mission. However, the enigma's eventual success convinced society that computational power is not only revolutionary, but crucial to the development of future technology. This has been proven right, as the algorithms and designs that were embedded in the earliest enigma soon became the foundation for greater computational power and information trading. Now, not only is knowledge produced mechanically on the medium of paper, it is distributed electronically through the digital screens and internet, allowing information to be created and distributed like never before.

The next step to robotics and mechanization is of course, artificial intelligence. While preexisting robots can handle physical labor, society, especially the technology industry, is aiming for artifically-intelligent robots that can interpret and follow commands. On a more ambitious note, society is interested in robots that can learn from the wealth of human information and knowledge that has accumulated since the birth of civilization to the boom of industrialization. Through utilizing existing information, we are able to process information in a near-human way and move a step closer to the high-functioning robots of the future.

Sensay, a web-based chatbot assistant

Microsoft's XiaoBing, a wechat-based AI that uses machine learning to interact with users
Sources:Norman, Jeremy. "Relating the Rapidly Changing Present to the Distant Past as Far as Book History Is Concerned." Relating the Rapidly Changing Present to the Distant Past as Far as Book History Is Concerned. History of Information, n.d. Web. 03 July 2016. 

"Alan Turing." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 July 2016. 

Uconlineprogram. "Robotics Pt1." YouTube. YouTube, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 03 July 2016. 

"Machine Learning." UofT Machine Learning Home Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2016. 

"Sensay." Medium. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2016. 

Media:Zhang, Charlotte. Have You Met Cortana’s Little Sister XiaoBing, the Jolly Chat Robot by Microsoft? Digital image. Lab Brand. Lab Brand, n.d. Web. 

Marshall, Matt. Sensay, a Chatbot for Getting Help with Any Task, Passes 1 Million Users. Digital image. Venture Beat. Venture Beat, n.d. Web. 

"Gutenberg Bible." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 July 2016. 

Worldsciencefestival. "The Enigma Machine Explained." YouTube. YouTube, 14 May 2013. Web. 03 July 2016. 

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