My Experience With AI
By Neera K. ’22
Last year, the robotics community that I have been a part of for nine years started to compete in the Vex Artificial Intelligence Competition (VAIC). As the lead designer/builder on the team, my task was to design and build two robots to work in conjunction with one another using 3D prints and machine parts. In designing the robot, I worked closely with the coders on the team and was able to implement various sensors (GPS, Vision, linked radios) that enabled us to develop the code for the robot to approach the tasks at hand autonomously. The GPS sensor allowed us to know the robot’s location on the field at all times which was essential in developing the path patterns and for developing algorithms that allowed for the robot’s independent movement from point A to point B. The vision sensor allowed us to identify the objects on the field and in turn, we were able to sort through the data and have the robot make informed and strategic decisions on the basis of the current state of the field as well as the location and progress of our opponents. By combining the data we gathered from the two sensors (distance and the coordinate position tracking) we were able to locate each object in the 3D space.
After competing in the AI competition and comparing that to my experience in the usual remote-controlled competition, I realized how much more difficult it is to develop a consciousness into a robot to enable autonomous decision making rather than relying on a human who would instantaneously process their surroundings and carry out a course of action. What we consider rudimentary decision-making in a human has to translate through complex coding and a multitude of sensors to be considered somewhat autonomous functioning in AI.
While much work has been done towards this, much more work is yet to be done on this frontier. As I look forward to the future development in AI in the years to come, I think of all the ways that AI can act as a catalyst for global advancement and all the applications that can materialize in many different sectors. Whether it be minimizing human effort given towards menial tasks, simulating alternative realities through VR, establishing artificial or machine capability for medical diagnosis, or automating spacecraft flight, the integration of AI into our daily lives has the potential to open doors that we didn’t know were closed and allow us to expand and explore new horizons.
While we keep in mind the promise of AI, we must continue to be cognizant of possible pitfalls of over-reliance on AI when reality changes as adapting to new conditions autonomously does not yet compare to the human brain’s ability to do so. My primary interest in AI lies in the medical applications: diagnosing patients, end-to-end drug discovery and development, advancing communication between physicians and patients, transcribing medical documents, remotely treating patients, and more. While AI has the capability to revolutionize the healthcare industry, the biggest problems in its way have yet to be solved. For example, precision medicine might be best delivered with the assistance of AI, but the AI would need to rely on the volumes of patient data such as hereditary traits, patient history, and treatment modalities. AI’s contribution to precision medicine can only be as good as the available data. Moreover, the design and implementation of AI will most likely reflect and incorporate the cultural biases and blind spots that currently plague the healthcare industry, unless a conscious effort is put towards preventing those oversights. Although the potential perils of AI have to be weighed against the potential of AI; I believe with the contributions of specialists from a variety of sectors including ethics, philosophy, and sociology, we will be better off with the advancement and development of AI than without.