Artificial intelligence and intelligent robots already exist. But what decisions can technology make on our behalf? How far can it go? AI is still in its infancy.
Charlie is supposed to explore the Moon for us sometime. But no human lives will be at risk during his mission, because Charlie’s a machine. The simian-like robot is currently still earthbound: he can currently be seen trying somewhat helplessly to navigate a papier mâché mock-up of the lunar surface at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence in Kaiserlsautern. Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, co-founder of the institution and, until recently, its boss, believes Charlie can be of great not only in space, but also here on Earth. He says intelligent robots could carry out dangerous jobs, search for victims buried in earthquakes or seal off a radioactive nuclear power plant after a meltdown. But what are AI’s limits? Can an autonomous car decide for itself whether it run over a child in the road or swerve into groups of people on the sidewalk instead? Our professional lives will also change. AI will make many jobs obsolete too – although it will also create new ones. The renowned Professor Wolfgang Wahlster believes that it will be down to politicians and society to define ethical boundaries. Meanwhile, he himself has become more humble. Forty years of research in the field of AI has given him a huge respect for human intelligence, which he says we are still light years away from being able to reproduce.