Thursday, January 4, 2018

Article for Awaken magazine: Artificial Intelligence: Will robots replace human beings?

Dear all,

This is the next BIG thing and one that is set to stay. I have written this article for the Buddhist Temple’s newsletter AWAKEN – for the month of January 2018, and with their permission hereby reproduce the said piece.  The newsletter reaches out to 10,000 Buddhists.

Happy reading, folks.


Raymond Anthony Fernando


Article for Awaken magazine:  Artificial Intelligence: Will robots replace human beings?

The digital world, a smart nation, the emergence of machines that are programmed to think and act like human beings. That’s what’s in store in the new era.  But are moving too fast and furious towards Artificial Intelligence or AI for short?

Exactly what is AI?  John McCarthy, the father of AI puts it plain and simple: Artificial Intelligence is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.

Have you ever imagined that robots could take on the role of human beings in food courts by doing the work of contract cleaners who clear trays after diners finish their meals? 

Well, that day has arrived! Two new food courts, Happy Hawkers in Tampines and FoodTastic in Choa Chu Kang, have introduced a host of technologically-driven robots who can do the job of cleaning contractors, many of whom are senior citizens.

The objective is to allow customers to enjoy a unique dining experience that will not only allow a faster and easier way to order their meals, and hopefully put an end to a long waiting time to search for a table.

Singapore is set to become a smart nation with technological advances such as cashless transport rides and paying for meals and other services with the use of smart handphones.

In the very near future, our Lion City will see the arrival of self-driven electric cars.  How will our citizens adapt to this change when they are so used to be driven around in taxis, public buses or the MRT where there are people currently driving these?

A study in the US revealed that there will be 200 million fewer cars on the road in America by 2030 once electric cars take to the streets. Once the car population is significantly reduced, we can be assured of a polluted-free environment which in turn can help to keep people healthier.

What consumers think of AI

A global study on Artificial Intelligence revealed that while most consumers are upbeat about AI as there are much benefits which comes with this new technology, there are also fears and confusion from some quarters on how business can grow with the implementation of AI.

Despite, some valid concerns, we need to embrace AI or we will lag behind as most developed countries will take the AI route where cost savings and a cleaner healthier environment will come about.

Will the implementation of AI have an adverse effect on jobs?

AI which can save costs and improve productivity can also affect the livelihood of workers who depend on work to earn a steady income. For example, cleaners may lose their jobs as robots can be programme to clear trays and clean floors. 

Once electric cars drive around, car dealers, auto insurers and motor car repair workshops will be out of business and those in these fields will not be able to provide for themselves and their families. 

Are robots able to be sensitive to the feelings of human beings?

All too soon, robots will also be involved in healthcare, assisting patients in hospitals and nursing homes where some of the daily needs of patients such as bathing, serving meals and related matters have to be met.

But unlike the personal touch where the human touch of nurses and personalised communication is crucial to the full recovery of the sick, robots will not be in a better position to take on this role.  More so if any patient is struggling to cope with psychological or stress-related issues.

In addition, will robots be able to be sensitive to race and religion when human beings are educated and trained to do so?


Raymond Anthony Fernando



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