Envision a conversation between the Captain of a mission craft ship and a mission member called Saviour 1. It goes like this – “Wake up Captain, it is 24 hrs to go for landing and as per my protocols I need to wake you up and assist you for landing the Ship”, “How long the crew has been asleep Saviour 1?’ Asked Capt. Ashok. “8 Years, 2 months and 4 days sir” Replied Saviour 1. “We have been asleep too long, kindly brief the exploration mission to the crew again Saviour 1” Said Capt. Ashok, “Crew we will be landing on Proxima Centauri in 24 hrs Earth time. Our goal is to set up the communication back home to inform of our arrival followed by setting up the camp for the crew so that you can carry out the experiments to see the survival on the planet and finally set up the incubation center for the embryos to see their survival on our potential new home. Meanwhile work parallelly on growing food and inhabiting the planet, while the crew will be on the said tasks I will be simultaneously assisting on each tasks, compiling the reports and sending it to Earth for analysis”, briefs Saviour. Who do you think Saviour 1 is? It is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program designed and developed to assist explorer mission to find new home for humans in the depth of space year 2424.
As depicted in movies across the world it is not necessarily that AI is the ‘self-aware’ program/robot trying to eliminate human race as shown in Terminator series nor it is a slave serving the sentinel beings as shown in Star Wars saga. According to Prof. Professor John McCarthy also known as ‘Father of AI’ “AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.” Let us bear in mind that AI is “Artificial Intelligence” as opposed to natural or “Native Intelligence”. AI works on the principle of the computational part of the program that works to adapt itself to be a self-aware system and therefore performs the tasks that the system is designed to perform as if it is using native intelligence. AI has immense potential to contribute to the development of society. As with any technology and tool one could use it for beneficial as well as unsavoury uses. In the scenario envisioned at the beginning of this text where Capt. Ashok and his crew of astronauts are on a mission in the future to explore an exoplanet and find a new home for mankind, AI could be used to perform manifold tasks in the mission. These tasks could be – a) Finding the best route and optimize the best path to follow in interstellar space, b) acting as an alarm to the crew, c) performing calculation from the surroundings to find a perfect spot to land, d) setting up the habitat, e) rationing and managing the food supply, programmed to run an incubation center to raise human babies without a womb or a mother, and many others like compiling, screening and processing of data. AI also can transmit data and act as the much needed medical center for the crew so far from home, prepare them for contingencies and finally manage the whole exploration program.
Now let us talk about how AI can be used for our benefit in the real world of material handling here and now. In our industry of material handling, an intelligent program can work seamlessly across all the stages of intra-warehouse movement of goods, right from inbound operation sequencing to assisting the suppliers to deliver in specific slots, to optimizing the storage location for the goods and, finally order slotting and execution of order picking in the least time with absolute accuracy along with the material movement in the warehouse. Besides doing all the above, AI can also provide real time asset monitoring, data collection from smart devices and provide predictive maintenance insights about devices to the maintenance teams.
With all the discussion and use cases we have still only explored the periphery of the potential and possibilities we can achieve with Artificial Intelligence. In times to come, we will see AI forming a critical element in the practice of safety of the plant, personnel, and systems.
In conclusion, AI has the potential to make Native intelligence also referred to as Human Intelligence to reach a level where it decodes human intelligence itself and reaches superintelligence. On a cautionary note, the goal of development of AI should be to always align with the goal of the human race itself without jeopardising the safety of human race and this planet for it to be a benefactor.