by December 1, 2008 0 comments

Arobotic butler serves you tea in a hotel. A driver-less cab takes you from
the airport to your home. A robotic pet dog snuggles up at your feet when you
enter your apartment. All this may seem to be from a science fiction movie, but
actually these are all some of the exciting new applications that are being
delivered today, thanks to the wonders of artificial intelligence. AI has always
been looked upon as a means to make robots think like humans. Such robots not
only perform tasks for humans but also emulate human behavior. Though robots
with human-like intelligence still remain futuristic, it doesn’t mean that
there’s no development happening to strive and achieve the same.

The story so far
If we review the milestones achieved till now, we won’t see robots as shown
in science-fiction movies coming to reality, but yes, a noticeable milestone
achieved in past was that of a machine beating a human in the game of chess
(Deep Blue computer beating World Champion Gary Kasporov). AI has come a long
way through research, but we still question all the promises that this
technology has made. If we lower our expectations, we’ll see that it’s just not
robotics where AI is used. It goes much beyond that. Almost in every domain of
our life we’ll have some part of AI being implemented. For instance, AI can be
found in the mail client that rejects junk e-mails to the software in the car
that will make it decelerate and apply brakes automatically if the driver fails
to press brakes on time. The applications and uses for artificial intelligent
systems are endless.

AI for enhancing business
Business applications have been utilizing the prowess of AI to try and make
better sense of of information. Over the past few years, business applications
requiring or benefiting from artificial intelligence has accelerated. In real
time business environment applications based on Artificial Neural Network
techniques are being used for complex problem-solving and decision support
systems such as insurance risk assessment. The business applicability of AI
techniques has spread across functions ranging from finance management to
forecasting and production, and has widely been adopted in areas of risk
management, compliance, and securities trading also, along with an extension
into customer relationship management (CRM).

Here’s a hypothetical nanorobot
that swims through blood vessels. This device finds its way using camera
mounted in front and contains payload for the affected area.

Business Intelligence solutions are based on AI techniques that analyze wide
array of data across multiple variables to determine patterns or relationships,
for example sales data or customer buying habits. Also AI is used in prediction
software that monitor the monetary flows or the stock market. Many banks use
such prediction software that monitor and analyze millions of transactions of
the stock market and suggest which stocks are safe to invest.

Even for automation of business processes, AI is used. Smart-Agents or Bots
can continuously monitor information on a network and upon finding a specific
task, can provide the desired response. It’s especially useful when there is
shared data that’s available in a common standard such as XML. For instance, a
Bot can be used in a CRM system and check for a customer account balance falling
below a specified value. In case it does, the client is sent a notification

The benefits of AI adoption include reduced risk of fraud, increased revenues
from existing customers due to newer opportunities, avoidance of fines resulting
from non-compliance and averted securities trade exceptions that could result in
delayed settlement, if not detected.Businesses depend on AI for decision making,
analyzing the market scenario, predicting financial growth, etc but since most
AI techniques learn from trial and error, it needs to be seen how AI
applications can be used for mission critical environments, where even a single
error can be fatal for the business

Robots to replace humans
Robots can be used in place of humans to increase precision, miniaturization,
smaller incisions, decreased blood loss, and reduce trauma to patients. They can
also reduce the amount of manpower used for carrying tasks like surgery or even
patient sample collection and delivery. In fact the first unmanned robotic
surgery was carried out in the year 2006 in Italy.

Whatz in Store?
AI is being used in research in areas of
medicine, environmental monitoring, weather forecasting and even for
military purposes. But some interesting research is being done in area of
cognition, where AI based systems shall be able to comprehend and analyze
objects and patterns and thus derive a relationship or action based on that.
In future, you can expect your car to take you to your destination all by
itself, by being able to recognize the road and barriers and also maneuver
its path through the road. Also with AI being the key element in robotics,
we shall see development happening in emotional robots that will be able to
recognize human emotions as well as respond accordingly. The road ahead is
like a runway, and with so much innovation happening in this area, we can
expect the science fiction to not just remain fiction anymore in coming

Usage of robots in medicine is not new and reasons for using robots are
plenty. A good example of human machine combination for surgery is the ‘da
Vinci’ surgical system. This system has been used extensively in surgery for
prostate cancer, hysterectomy and mitral valve repair. To accomplish these
complex tasks, ‘da Vinci’ comprises of three portions: a surgical console, four
arms and high definition 3D vision. Some breakthrough has also been achieved in
controlling a small wireless device of 1.5 mm diameter inside the human body. In
the next part, we shall further elaborate on future trends in medicine.

Think of a microscopic machine that is able to perform complex tasks on
instructions. Also imagine a small robot that moves in the blood stream of a
patient and directly delivers payload (medication) to the affected area inside
the body. Though still in conceptual phase, this is what the interesting world
of nanorobotics is all about. By definition, nanorobotics is the technology of
creating microscopic machines or robots (on a nanometer scale). Lot of research
is being done to apply this technology in the medical domain.

Drugs & nanorobots
Bioavailability of the drug is defined as presence of drug molecules in the
affected area inside the body. A complete bioavailability of medicine can be
achieved using nanorobots. These machines would be 0.5-3 micrometer in size so
that they can easily move around inside capillaries. Material used to build
these nanorobots would be carbon due to its strength and favorable
characteristics. The use of special isotope of carbon would further help in
tracking these robots using an MRI scan. These devices would be injected inside
patient’s body and then tracked for progress.

Cell repair machines
The other interesting app of nanotechnology is cell repair using molecular
devices. It has been proven that molecules have the ability to recognize, repair
and destroy other molecules. It is also possible to insert molecules inside a
cell using needles without damaging them. Now if molecular machines are built
and injected in cells they would be able to effectively repair cells, even those
that are dead. In fact, one can even repair a complete tissue. Further, all
these repaired tissues would eventually lead to a healthy organ. Further
advancements can be done in molecular machines by making them intelligent, ie
instead of doing specialized work, these devices can demonstrate artificial

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