AIs are very bad at solving the general problem.
morriswalters wrote:Not having robots repair your sink is a matter of economics, not technology. Robots are expensive, plumbers less so. The only reason to make a robot plumber is because you need more plumbers than you have the capacity to produce through existing methods. Not a problem currently, or so I believe. However it might be nifty if the plumber could call in a drone to deliver the part after he assesses the problem. Or as HES suggests, fab it on site.
Right now anyway. Look at the "champion" of the 2015 Amazon picking challenge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrpMfdj-Mpc
Robots are very
bad at general tasks right now. Make a contest between the best researchers in the world, each of which with access to millions of dollars of research money... the best
robot can only pick up 10 of the 12 requested objects from a shelf over the course of ~17 minutes.
There are some tasks computers are good at, mostly because programmers have spent literally decades exploring various algorithms for particular tasks. But as soon as you deviate from the task and go for a "general" problem (a problem like "pickup these 12 things from the shelf over there"), the best of the best bots start having issues.
Plumbing is a similar "general" task. Where is the kitchen? Which pipe is connected to which sink? Which sink is having an issue? Are there stuff in the way that should be temporarily moved? Where should that stuff go? Is the PVC pipe warped or otherwise damaged? Is the issue in the garbage disposer? Is it ink the PVC pipe itself? Or is it the faucet? Etc. etc. These are the kinds of situations that computers are very, very
bad at right now. And aside from the Amazon contest... I don't see too many researchers trying to solve the "general" problems like that. (Even then, Amazon's picking challenge is very much born out of Amazon's requirements to pick things out of their warehouse)
Kitchen sinks aren't made to exact specifications either. The pipes under every Kitchen sink are basically custom-made by a plumber in every house. Its not very hard to cut PVC pipes to certain lengths and make a custom solution for everybody. Without standardization, it becomes incredibly difficult for a computer to work across the problem set.
Also, Plumbers are fucking expensive. If you're a master-plumber, you can get into 6-figures if you work overtime... with most master plumbers getting into the $70k+ range without any degree. Plumbers ain't a low-paying job. Its kinda complicated, and requires good skills as well as a mastery of local laws and regulations.
I know that its grossly different depending on the area. But I live in basically a nanny state... so there are licenses for "Master Plumber" status as well as a myriad of state and local laws that differ from county to county. I hear that plumbers make less in other areas (probably where there are fewer regulatory hurdles)... but there are good reasons to regulate and standardize plumbing issues across houses in a local area.
A lot of the "Master Plumber" crap is about liability
as well. People rely on "Master Plumbers" to make sure that the water sprinklers will actually work during a fire. Sure, maybe an AI or other invention may make basic plumbing tasks easier for the layperson in the future... but if there's one thing that's constant... its liability. Someone needs to take responsibility. That's a job in of itself, and it can never be farmed out to an AI. (At best, an AI will centralize responsibility to a company. IE: If an automated car started to crash a lot, then the company who wrote the AI would be liable)
What current attempts at AI seem to be good at is something that humans aren't, large, fast changing data sets. IBM's work on the medical uses of Deep Blue or whatever they call it appears to me to be instructive. How many cancer cases can even an above average Oncologist study, much less draw comparisons against?
IBM's Deep Blue was the Chess-playing robot. I think the one you're talking about is IBM's Watson (the one on Jeopardy). Really, Watson isn't an "AI" in the classic sense as much as it is a very advanced automated-language processing system hooked up to a database. Playing against Watson in Jeopardy was like trying to play against fucking Wikipedia database (which was innately created by humans). Advanced automated-language processing can perform hugely important tasks, but its difficult to call it AI because all its really doing is reading and regurgitating basic facts.
Watson will be useful in maybe... phone communication systems (automated voice machines and whatnot) or drive through windows sorts of tasks. And with its "reading" ability, its also good at searching and indexing data. Due to its ability to correlate text and read English, there are intriguing applications of Watson
but I really still don't consider it an AI... any more than I consider "Google" to be an AI (or Amazon's "You might also like" feature)
In contrast... there are "Expert System AIs" or "Machine Learning AIs" which are beating humans in the medical field of diagnosing mental health issues
. But these are closer to a set of tools and still require the doctor to perform the interview questions. Nonetheless, this is closer to the field of AI IMO. Its actually "intelligence", in that the computer system is coming up with the answers (as opposed to just searching through a database and finding an answer)
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.