Where will robotic AI lead us?

Feb. 25, 2019
Add spatial thought to artificial intelligence, and it could rule all aspects of life and employment

Elon Musk has said that artificial intelligence (AI) is more dangerous than nuclear weapons. It can replace many things that we hold near and dear to our hearts. He also laments that AI could in fact take over the planet.

On another side, an AI expert from China stated that we would never reach the goal of artificial general intelligence (AGI), from which humans generate societies. It is AGI that allows us to think spatially.

Robots and AI will never reach this pinnacle, but all other forms of employment are targets for AI.

A novelty adult toy company won an innovation award at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in December 2018, only to have it removed since the selection committee had second thoughts. They deemed the product immoral and obscene. Thus, alas, the change of fortunes.

Samantha, robotic AI designed for the oldest profession, broke down at a technology conference in Austria because it was manhandled too much. But at a price point of $4,000, it is considered affordable.

According to the Foundation of Responsible Robotics—yes, there is one—these “sexbots” are becoming more popular in a competitive market. What? There is a competitive market for these dolls?

It seems AI is encroaching on even our most basic instincts. Will this lead to unintended consequences? Most likely. But it could be very useful in relationships where performance anxiety is an issue, if you will.

But like all IoT devices, Samantha comes with various issues such as performance, big data and of course security.

One security expert who lectures in Australia on cybersecurity suggests that, if we are not careful, hackers could invade our landscape, turn robots like Samanth against us and in fact kill customers.

Far-fetched? Probably, but as with all things, it’s possible.

Yanu is a robotic bartender currently in development. While I thought the age-old practice of whining to the bartender about the fight you had with your sexbot would disappear, it seems that Yanu can in fact carry on conversations, as well as mix drinks.

While I believe there are good uses for AI, we do have to be responsible in applications.

Switching gears, I wanted to introduce you to a hardware modification presentation called Modchips of the State.

On Oct. 4, Bloomberg published a story about a motherboard hack on server motherboards produced by Supermicro. It was very frightening to hear that the supply chain could in fact be a victim of hardware modification after it leaves the QA/QC circle of trust.

I watched a presentation by Trammell Hudson on the concept of hardware implants in the supply chain. It was fascinating to me with regard to the checks and balances that go on in maintaining the integrity of the design.

The chip and boards are checked to make sure they meet the original design specification using a variety of methods, but, to be clear, each component is checked, as are the board traces and layers since electronics can be buried in between board layers.

In the talk, Hudson alludes to the possibility of intelligence being hidden in a surface-mounted resistor. Its’ Star Wars stuff here, folks.

Devices such as computers running SCADA/HMIs are not really off when they are off. The baseboard management controller (BMC) and the serial peripheral interface (SPI) provide the ability to intercept communications on the motherboard and to inject commands into the data streams.

Hudson proved the theory, which in turn adds some credence to the Bloomberg story.

I have not been involved in the semiconductor industry, so all of this stuff was new to me, but it conjured up thoughts and ideas I can’t unthink. Huawei is being accused of implanting hardware and software, which could impact national security. True or not, Hudson certainly entertains the idea that all things are possible, and he proves it.

While most PLCs are made in controlled environments, I don’t know if they follow the same rules of QA/QC that mainstream server boards do. I’m sure Samantha doesn’t, and while hacking Samantha may not be an issue of national security, it could sure be an invasion of privacy at the top or bottom level.

I would love to hear from vendors about their supply chains. Are we safe?

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About the author: Jeremy Pollard
About the Author

Jeremy Pollard | CET

Jeremy Pollard, CET, has been writing about technology and software issues for many years. Pollard has been involved in control system programming and training for more than 25 years.