Artificial Intelligence, Real Controversy

Those who first encountered robotics through Isaac Asimov’s stories may be delighted at recent technological advances regarding artificial intelligence. Those whose first encounter was “The Matrix” or “Terminator” might not be so thrilled. After all, what would happen if our inventions got out of hand and ended up being more powerful than we are?

One of these technological advances, that has caused both excitement and controversy, is Sophia.

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Internet: preserving humankind’s intellectual heritage

In 1969, project ARPANET managed to send a message from a computer at University of California in Los Angeles to another computer at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. Originally developed for military communications, and later for higher education centers, the network kept growing and making more connections until it was finally commercially available for the public. Almost fifty years after its birth, the internet is an inseparable part of our lives. This tool experienced its greatest growth during the 1990s and continues to grow: in the year 2000, 51% of telecommunications occurred through the internet; by 2007, this number had risen to an astonishing 97%.

Every day, about 2.5 million terabytes (the equivalent of filling 28.75 billion iPads) of information are added to the existing 1.1 zettabytes (the equivalent of about 36 thousand years of HD video) on the internet. Ninety percent of the content is less than two years old, and great efforts are being made to upload as much of human-generated information as possible to “the cloud”: the unreal, untouchable space where information can be stored forever.

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The World at your Ears

One of the barriers that our ever more globalized world still faces is the language barrier. With almost 7 thousand different existing languages in the world (2009 data, Summer Institute of Language International, quoted by Linguistic Society of America), learning them all would be a herculean and impractical task. On the other hand, given that language is a fundamental part of identity, trying to unite humanity under a same tongue, whether fabricated (like Esperanto) or existing (like English, considered “default” in many international scenarios) might be considered almost offensive. Humans tend to avoid conflict and communicate with each in their mother tongue through an intermediary who speaks both languages: an interpreter.

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