EVOLUTION IN MACHINES – WHAT NEXT?

Introduction

Humankind as we know and experience today, has evolved over millennia from our primitive biological ancestors to our current biological selves. This evolution has gone through many stages and phases that has lead to our dominance and success on this planet.

The evolution and advancement of Cognition and Language played a significant role in establishing Humans as the dominant species while having a profound effect on the Humankind’s Evolutionary Journey.

Cognition or the ability to learn and gain knowledge through a ‘thought process’ helped humans thrive better and more efficiently than other species. This resulted in the early discovery, invention, and development of societies, tools, agriculture and other advancements. This cognitive ability enabled us to develop and communicate with a common language that irreversibly gave us a boost towards becoming the dominant species on earth.

Language, or a systematic approach to clearly communicate within a species – has shaped to what we use now, over thousands of years. Different communities and societies developed and shaped different languages that we have come to know today. Despite the differences, it is evident that ‘language’ was crucial to the development of humans as a social.

A combination of language and cognition enabled early humans to rally forces, build societies, understand obstacles, explore their surroundings while analyzing them, etc., The ability to instruct and impart played a crucial role in the development of civilizations and societies. This development can be broken down into three steps

  • The ability to express one’s thoughts and ideas
  • The ability to understand the expressed thoughts and ideas
  • The ability to function, based on the said thoughts and ideas

These enabled early humans to gather masses and work efficiently and productively. Tasks that were near impossible to be done by a small group or a single human could now be handled well; thanks to the amassment of more humans. Many modes of communications were used to achieve the desired results – primitive signs, early languages, non-verbal pictorial representations (early writing systems), etc., However, amongst these modes, the one that stood the test of time to emerge the forerunner was ‘language’ in the form of Speech. This clearly has been at the helm of our evolution and steered us to our current position on earth.

This evolution has also interfered with and altered the evolutionary paths of all the elements that surround us or make up our planet; flora, fauna, rivers, mountains, language, writing, science, human inventions, etc. Human inventions and discoveries, especially have evolved with a similar pace as that of our; tools, agriculture, cooking, trade, engines, automobiles, computers, space travel and everything in between these and around these.  At every stage of this human evolution and endeavour there has been one stand out invention or discovery that propelled us into the future; faster and further; Stone tools to iron tools in the early stages, agriculture and cooking when we started societies, weapons, and trade when we started building civilizations, engines, and mechanics for our industrial revolutions, electronics and computer science for our modern age. etc.

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Amongst the discoveries and inventions, ‘Electronics and Computer Science’ have had a far-reaching effect on our population and have impacted our day to day life drastically.  Over the years they have become very personal to us and they have proliferated our lives and environments drastically.  From television sets, radios and telephones to personal computers, mobile phones, and satellites, we are surrounded by electronics and computer science every day. They have about them a uniqueness;  we communicate with them and to them in ways that were not done before with other inventions.

Today we see  ‘machine learning’ and ‘artificial intelligence’ enabling us to add cognition and push them towards a cognitive revolution. We are enabling machines to learn from experiences and make judgments on their own; making them more independent and more useful to us. We already have machines that can suggest the movies we like, drive cars, detect cancer early, etc, and this is possible due to the idea of cognition that we have built into those systems using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

We have made these modern machines different from other earlier machines because of their ability “think” and the way in which we are able to “communicate” with them. We do not use levers or knobs, reminiscent of early machinery; instead, we type out messages or instructions in a language familiar to us. This mode of communication has evolved over time; from punching to typing to clicking to voice.

Machines understanding human language through our speech is the next big step in the evolution of electronics and computer science. The combination of cognition and voice recognition in devices have ensured that we can communicate; not just instruct, and in a language that we use and understand best.

Most early machinery and devices were designed and developed to ease the user in its usage. Until recently, using advanced personal devices required us to be in physical contact with the device, know basic operations and understand its basic layout and structure. This made devices unreachable or unrelatable to many. The combination of cognition and voice recognition will now enable us to use devices with just our voice, making it accessible to many, thus breaking down the barrier many might have faced earlier

The applications of such devices are immense. We believe, like the events that helped humans as a species, leapfrog in its evolution; cognition and voice recognition in machines will change the way we interact with devices and how they will have a lasting impact on our lives.

 

Babunath Giri T
Sr. Project Manager
Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
Tarams  Software Technologies Pvt Ltd.