Dubai police showed off their newest crime fighter at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) and it just so happens to be an android. Able to shake hands and salute, Dubai’s Robocop can scan faces and spot people from 10 to 20 meters away.
In a recent Futurism article, author Dom Galeon says the new android officer is equipped with a touch screen so the public can report crimes and process fines for traffic violations. The next step for Dubai’s Robocop: voice commands. Working with IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, and Google to add virtual assistant technology, Dubai wants the android cop to follow voice commands.
From bomb scanning robots at July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland to urban command robots in China, law enforcement has been using advances in robotics as a means of safeguarding its citizens. There’s even an intruder-chasing security drone in Japan. According to Futurism article entitled, “This Security Drone can Chase Intruders All by Itself,” Japanese firm Secom‘s security drone captures photos of vehicles and people that seek to trespass on prohibited areas. It can also chase after them and photograph their faces and license plates for documentation.
So how far off are we from having android robots patrol our streets or chase down intruders? According to an October 10th article in The Verge, artificial intelligence has yet to be perfected for the following reasons: one, AI requires a ton of ever-changing hard-to-get information; two, AI is unable to multi-task; and three, there needs to be more focus on how these systems reach their final conclusions. AI technology is just not there yet; so rest assured, you won’t be seeing Robocop at a DUI checkpoint anytime soon.
According to Neil Lawrence, Professor of machine learning at the University of Sheffield and part of Amazon’s AI team, “these systems don’t just require more information than humans to understand concepts or recognize features, they require hundreds of thousands times more.” Lawrence says that huge tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are the perfect resource for AI. “They have abundant data and so can afford to run efficient machine learning systems.” The fact that the Dubai police are using Google as a resource for adding virtual assistant technology is promising.
To be a truly effective patrol officer, Dubai’s Robocop needs to perfect facial recognition, decipher between objects, and effectively communicate information with human cops. In other words, the android needs to synthesize its thinking in order to problem solve. According to Murray Shanahan, Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London, “what goes on in the mind can be reduced to basic logic, where the world is defined by a complex dictionary of symbols. By combining these symbols – which represent actions, events, objects, etc. – you basically synthesize thinking.” This summarizes Shanahan’s “Deep Symbolic Reinforcement Learning” methodology that he hopes will break some of AI’s barriers when it comes to deep learning.
In closing, experts are estimating 30+ years all the way to a century before artificial intelligence is close to where it should be. As it stands right now, AI consists of feeding systems data and waiting for them to notice patterns. Deep learning, although in its innovation infancy, happens to be the key ingredient in AI’s breakthrough. With the advancement of AI innovation comes a more effective Robocop patrolling our streets. Instead of relying on a touch screen to report crime, Robocops of the future will be able to recognize distress, provide instructions to victims, track down criminals and act as a conduit between citizens and nearby human officers.