We live in a world where technology is slowly taking over (well, it feels like it sometimes) and I find myself wondering what the future holds. Are we all going to wake up one day and find ourselves in an I, Robot existence? Or are we forever destined to reach for those robot shaped stars?
I watched a film recently which is basically about a group of rag dolls who find themselves in a post-apocalyptic world fighting against a giant evil machine. The film is much better than I make it sound and I am going somewhere with this, trust me. Turns out the giant evil machine was created in order to create other machines to protect the human race and had been designed to be super intelligent (I’m sure it would be able to make tea and wash dishes too) but ended up making fellow evil machines that wiped out the human race instead (woops!). In short, the moral of the story was that although the evil genius machine could build anything it wanted, it could never have a soul.
Believe it or not, this got me thinking about future technology (see the link there…no? It’s definitely there, wait for it…). Now although I’m fairly certain that we won’t end up in a post-apocalyptic world having been wiped out by evil machines, or at least I hope not, I do wonder how far we will push the limits. Like so many things in this world, one cannot exist without another. Move over chicken and egg, humans and Artificial Intelligence is the new dilemma! We are the creators, the developers, the designers of all things AI, but can they survive without us? Will machines ever be intelligent enough to evolve without people?
As much as I would like to think I will live forever and be around to see where all this technology is going, I will have to leave that to the engineers of the future. This doesn’t mean we can just sit back and relax and let the next generation take care of things though; it is our job to build the foundations. We are already seeing AI in the news in the form of robots playing football, giving health advice, and autonomous vehicles providing vital support out in the field, and it amazes me to look back on how far we have come in the past 10 years – imagine how far the next 10 will take us!
With this in mind, we need to prepare. Not in a post-apocalyptic manner by buying too many canned goods and moving into our basements, but in the sense that we need to educate and inspire the minds of tomorrow. With the increasing pressure to bring up the numbers of engineering graduates, and especially those with experience, we need to offer more than just theory. We need them to apply this theory, make decisions, and design their own experiments and procedures. They need to be graduating not only with their degree certificates in hand, but with hands-on experience they can apply to the real world.
From Undergraduate teaching to Postgraduate research projects, the need for exciting, interesting and applicable labs is essential, and when I started at Adept Scientific and was introduced to the world of Quanser and their teaching and research lab solutions, I wished I was back at University! From teaching control with the SRV-02 servo plants combined with their range of rotary experiments, exploring the capabilities of unmanned vehicle systems to researching the effects of earthquakes on structures, Quanser has a solution, and as someone lucky enough to have gotten my hands on some of these systems, I can tell you first hand….they are inspirational!