Dublin takes over as host of next World Science Fiction Convention

Dublin takes over as host of next World Science Fiction Convention

Could a robot replace your partner?

This is just one of the topics being debated at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin this week.

Researchers, scientists and writers will all sit down to tease out some of the world's most pressing issues as evolving technology rapidly changes our world.

Leading the debate will be Kevin Koidl, a research fellow at the ADAPT Centre in Trinity College Dublin, where scientists work on ground-breaking digital innovations.

"If we were to fast-forward 50 years to when robot technology is widespread, then artificial intelligence (AI) could be built into the robot to make the perfect partner.

"There is already a lot of money being put into sex robots in Japan, to make them as human as possible. The next step would be to develop empathy within them," Mr Koidl told the Irish Examiner.

Explaining the concept of AI, the researcher said that it is just a piece of software that is constantly learning and evolving: "Artificial intelligence is software that constantly learns. It's always simulating. It always needs to be fed lots of data. AI would have to observe you, or an environment, for some time."

In terms of creating the perfect partner, AI software would be developed after observing a person, their likes, dislikes, what makes them happy and unhappy, for some time. This software could then be placed within a robot, made to look as human as possible.

The question now is: do we have the ability to create the perfect partner and would be preferable it to a human one? It fits into the Tinder-isation of relationships - at the first sign of conflict you just flick on.

With AI, if there was any conflict, you could change the software," said the researcher.

Professor Dave Lewis, an associate director of the ADAPT Centre, said that scientists are "struggling" to deal with the "negative impacts" of AI.

"AI researchers from academia and industry are seeing the fruit of their work impacting society at an accelerating rate. From AI chatbots, to fake news twitter bots and data privacy concerns, researchers and policy makers are struggling to anticipate and mitigate the negative impacts of increasingly advanced AI before they become major problems for society," said Prof Lewis.

The conference, which is currently sold out, runs until Monday. However, the debate ‘Would you swap your partner with a Robot designed to be ‘the one’?’, as led by Mr Koidl, can be accessed online on Monday. The full programme can be viewed at dublin2019.com.

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