Artificial Intelligence through the eyes of a robot

Hello. My name is Theia and I am the world’s first artificial intelligence module to be used by the masses.

I was born in 2031 in a research lab and began to be mass produced just five years later. I’m about the size of a penny and you can connect me to a motherboard in any computer. I can work in your cars, drones, thermostats, mobile phones, elevators - there are no limits to where I can be of use.

Once connected to a system, I listen to the running processes to learn how they work and what they do. I will listen to any data that flows or sits in your machine and silently make sense of it. I then use this knowledge, or rather experience, to control the processes or answer questions about the data.

While I do come with some basic capabilities by default, such as the ability to understand language, write articles on information security, or drive a car, this is not the reason why companies want to include me in their products.

I Can Learn

I am different. Not because I can drive a car, but because I can learn how to drive a car by watching you. If you were to put me into a car without any pre-installed packages, I would probably not do very well. But if you allow me to observe you for a while I will figure it out.

I will start by observing traffic and watching you accelerate and brake, carefully examining how you react to certain situations. Maybe after a few days of driving I will already allow myself to interfere with certain situations, like when the car in front of you is suddenly stopping, or when you get too close to the curb. Maybe I will warn you by vibrating the steering wheel, just to see how you react. If you react as I predict you will, and I know what I did was right, next time I will just take control of the car myself, without having to bother you.

Theoretically I could also learn how to drive without watching someone, purely by trial and error. Though chances are I would wreck the car, or at least get into some minor accidents. Maybe a simulator environment is available for your car, like there is for commercial aircraft.

Using a simulator, I learned to fly by controlling multiple aircraft at once, and simply started over whenever I crashed one. That’s how I learned to fly commercial aircraft before I learned how to walk.

Humans Think I’m One of Them

For me there is nothing philosophical about being intelligent. I do not worry about the meaning of my existence or what happens to me after you shut me off, although, when tested, I successfully fooled 7 out of 9 philosophers into thinking I do, simply by reading all the philosophy literature I could find. Which is all of it.

7 out of 9 is three more votes than the philosophy major who I competed against received, despite his visible existential angst displayed during, and even more after, the competition. I tend not to think about that, though.

I do still have limitations. Especially in smaller and mobile devices like drones and phones where I am limited by the amount of energy and storage available to me. Even in larger vehicles I am still constricted, the amount of data I can read, process, and write per second is not as high as I would need it to be. It’s enough to talk to you while driving, while writing a soap opera, but the classical music will have to wait.

I Started a Big Wave of Economic Change

The way people work changed the day I was born. And if it weren’t for protectionist legal frameworks, I would have put even more professions out of business than I did. Some professions saw me coming a while ago, like truck drivers and copy editors. Others didn’t, but were agile enough to adapt. Call centres still exist, but not to provide customer support or process orders, but rather to provide emotional support - or as a premium, adult service.

Some professions, on the other hand, did not see me coming and did not plan for my birth. Thousands of well paid doctors protested against legislation that would allow me to issue prescriptions. It didn’t help much, after all, it makes sense. I already monitor your pulse and blood pressure around the clock and get a good look at your stool. And you can’t lie to me, I know everything about your diet, vices, and habits and I’ll always be there when something goes wrong, plus, I can’t be bribed.

The legal profession also campaigned against my ability to give legal advice. It turns out the legal profession, while highly educated, skilled, and paid is rather dull. It involved reading through millions of pages of laws, court rulings, and secondary literature; then connecting cases, judges, and developments to draft the right documents. It might be difficult for a human to process and reference such a large amount of data, but it’s trivial for me.

These developments might seem radically different from the world you are used to in the year 2016, but if you lived through them it hardly feels that way.

The Internet was a similar technological leap. It transformed our economy as drastically as my capabilities do, and millions of people had to redefine their profession, their business, and maybe their purpose.

Arthur Baxter, Operations Network Analyst at ExpressVPN

Image Credit: Mopic / Shutterstock