Rise of the Machines ?
Artificial Intelligence is a major software technology that has been under development for decades. As with many forms of technology, the current hype around artificial intelligence doesn’t really come with all of the history that really belongs with it.
At General Electric Locomotive Engine division artificial intelligence was used to develop a diagnostic program that embodied the equivalent of 20 years of senior technician’s expertise. This program was among the first practical applications of AI programming techniques and successfully helped technicians to solve problems with complex locomotive engine systems.
Artificial Intelligence is a misnomer at best. The most sophisticated control systems operate equipment and perform tasks based on their programming. There are no cases in which the control system independently exceeded it’s programming and created a new control solution.
Every servo controller has some level of “intelligence” that is built into it’s software. That intelligence can take the form of I2T current limiting so that as the system operates, excess heating does not cause damage to the motor. As the motor heats up, the system looks at the current being used and does a calculation to see if, at the current rate, the motor will overheat. If so, the system will reduce the current to the motor. This will show up as some rather odd “behavior” in the equipment, sluggish motor and load acceleration, etc. A smart programmer will put this into a message on the operator control panel as an error flag.
Does this kind of programming constitute “self protection” or “self preservation”? Absolutely not. The servo system is doing exactly what is was programmed to do.
Can the servo controller come up with it’s own algorithm of control to use instead of the I2T feature that was programmed in? Absolutely not.
Adaptive gain in a servo is an even more sophisticated algorithm in which changing load conditions cause the controller to re-calculate the gain required to achieve stable control. Dynamics in the mechanical system can be measured using the motor current and knowledge of the current required for the motor in the circuit. Is this intelligence, or the imitation of intelligence?
Man has demonstrated incredible ingenuity in creating machine control systems that are able to imitate speech, vision recognition, autonomous motion using cars and drones. These are all imitations of human behavior that have taken decades of cumulative effort to create.
Alan Turing’s invention is what we now call “software”. The ability to model mathematical problems as zero’s and one’s and calculate complex results. There is little likelihood, as Turing opined, that man will create real intelligence outside of his own.