The Reality Behind AI Myths

The Reality Behind AI Myths

As a former professor in artificial intelligence, one of my favorite–and surely one of the oldest–technological myths is found in the masterpiece, the Iliad.

In Homer’s poem narrating the Trojan War, the God of metalworking, Hephaestus, engineers one of the first robots known to history, a handmaiden designed to assist him in his forge. Not happy with limiting himself to manufacturing, Hephaestus steps it up by designing Talos, an automated bronze giant whose purpose was to protect ancient Crete from pirates and invaders.

While thousands of years have passed since Hephaestus’ mythical robots came to life, today’s intelligent machines–strong of skillful AI–are making headway in our own workplaces. Take the factories and warehouses adversely affected by the pandemic as an example. With fewer and fewer workers willing and able to assist our manufacturers and fulfilment centers, many are embracing AI and machine learning to  automate tasks such as quality control which are traditionally reliant on scores of human workers.

Despite the vast amount written about AI, this technology is still, in a sense, in its “mythological” era, mostly due to the mismatch between what science fiction portrays AI to be capable of, and what today’s technology does (hint: it does a lot!).

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