A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge have made a major breakthrough that may help in fighting malaria. They have discovered that a compound called ‘triclosan’, which is commonly found in toothpaste, could be used to develop an anti-malarial drug against strains of the malarial parasite that have grown resistant to the drugs available in the market.
But they didn’t achieve this feat alone. They were aided by a ‘Robot Scientist’ called Eve (yes, you heard that right) which was developed by a group of scientists at the Universities of Manchester, Aberystwyth, and Cambridge. “In a study published today in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers employed the Robot Scientist ‘Eve’ in a high-throughput screen and discovered that triclosan, an ingredient found in many toothpastes, may help the fight against drug-resistance,” the University of Cambridge wrote in a press release about the development.
But this is not the first incident when robots have aided humans in achieving a milestone, and if I might add, challenging their competency to some extent. The year 2017 has been full of examples wherein these artificially intelligent machines have time and again proved that if humans can do, they can do it too– in some cases, do it better.
Though this technology is still in its nascent stages and its complete potential is yet to be ascertained, AI has already posed itself as a threat to the humanity– not in a way that it would exterminate mankind as in the Terminator series, but in the sense that it would create a severe job shortage across industries globally.
Here are some incidents to consider:
- AI Composer: AI-based music composer, performer, and producer ‘Amper’ in collaboration with southern musician Taryn Southern created the first music album by AI– I AM AI.
- Robot Journalist: China’s robot journalist Xiao Nan has already got its first article published in China’s Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily. And guess what, it’s way efficient than its human counterparts. It took this robot just five seconds to write a 300-character long story. Apart from this, AI bots are already publishing articles for media giants including AP. Talk about efficiency, but this is scary!
- Robot Lawyers: Not just journos but even lawyers are not immune to this wave of change. World’s first robot lawyer– DoNotPay— which is active across the US and UK, has already stunned the globe by its efficiency and expertise. According to a report by The Verge, it has already helped in defeating over 375,000 parking tickets in a span of two years.
- Robot Cookbook Author: IBM Watson, the AI developed to answer questions on the quiz show Jeopardy turned a cookbook author after it published a book with recipes about Italian pumpkin cheesecake and creole shrimp-lamb dumplings. Don’t trust us? Check out the book here.
- Robot Therapist: In case you don’t want to consult a ‘human therapist’, you can always turn to ‘robot therapist’ for help. A virtual therapist named Ellie is already helping in identifying signs of PTSD and depression in American soldiers, states an NBC report. Another AI bot Woebot uses Facebook Messenger to communicate with people having mental health issues.
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Here are some incidents that will give you a sense of the urgency of the situation:
- A Japanese insurance company, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, laid off 30 employees and replaced them with an AI-based system. The firm said that it would help in saving about 140 million Yen (Rs 8.06 crores approx) in a year, The Guardian reported.
- Last year, Infosys released nearly 9,000 employees because of automation. The company’s HR head said that with increased automation, the hirings in the company will come down eventually, The Times of India reported.
- According to another report, automation is likely to render nearly 70 percent of Indian workforce, which predominantly specialises in the IT sector, irrelevant.
While these AI-based robots have been designed to aid human workers and the number of jobs being laid off due to this tech might seem insignificant at the moment, but given the pace at which this technology is developing, it won’t be long before we see AI taking up the task independently and replacing the human hand.