Can artificial intelligence solve the crisis?

MADRID -- University scientists have developed artificial intelligence that can automatically, rapidly create plans, factoring in limited resources.
Written by Jennifer Riggins, Contributor

MADRID--Since humans only seem to maintain confused expressions, maybe it's time for robots to start answering life's greatest questions? OK, maybe we aren't quite there yet, but researchers at Madrid's world-renown robotic research center have developed an artificially intellectual method of solving automated problems.

This Wednesday, the University of Carlos III announced their AI project, which factors in the limitations and variables in the generation of the best solution in supposedly the quickest way possible. "This method can be applied in sectors such as logistics, autonomous control of robots, fire extinguishing and on-line learning," read the press release.

This is all based around the idea that there are specific sequences of events or actions that can then lead to a preferred result. "What very often happens in real situations is that there is no plan that can reach all of the objectives due to the limitations of one resource, such as time, money, fuel, battery...And this is where the methodology proposed in the article can be used,” said Professor Ángel García Olaya, head researcher for the project entitled "Using the Relaxed Plan Heuristic to Select Goals in Oversubscription Planning Problems."

Now, the nitty-gritty of the technology is rather confusing to a lay person, but anyone can imagine its possibilities.

For instance, no matter who is running the country now, the Spanish government surely hasn't found the magic formula to cure its economic crisis. With 41,000 euros per person in foreign debt and 23-percent unemployment, Spain's limited resources, among others, are money and jobs. Factoring these limiting variables--though probably not the politics of the Eurozone--into computerized probability equations, a computer could conceivably generate the best way to allocate these resources for the desired outcome. In this case, this outcome would be higher employment and lower debt or, more for the short-term, how to most effectively enact the recortes, or austerity cutbacks, which is all about factoring nearly infinite variables into designing a limited fiscal budget.

The project's researchers claim that this program "allows solutions to be found that are equivalent to or better than those provided by the other existing techniques, in addition to doing so much faster, when there are limited resources that can be used." Olaya says that this method is three to ten times faster than current methods.

This artificially intellectual methodology can be used in any appropriate situation that uses automatic planning, like with autonomously-controlled robots, fire extinguishers, and logistics. The researchers have already done an entire project for a goods transportation company. They inputed data involving train and ship schedules, along with specific client order details. The result was a very specifically outlined schedule of which vehicle should carry what when, in order to create the most efficient and cost effective deliveries. Described by the researchers: "The methodology presented by these scientists would, in this case, allow the users to create plans in a situation in which not all the packages can be delivered, as would occur when the time that is needed to perform the task is greater than the time that is available, because of the inadequacy of the available resources. In this case, the system would attempt to find a plan by which the greatest number of goods possible could be delivered, thus minimizing the cost."

This is just one of many artificial intelligence and robotics projects going on at the University of Carlos III, which is one of the most technologially-renowned universities in the world. The researchers are integrating this current artificial intelligence research with their robotic designs. This sort of technology has gone into the Mars rovers, with UC3's particular project being developed in a partnership with the European Space Agency.

We will just have to wait and see what they come up with next. Automatonophobics beware.

Photo: University of Carlos III, Madrid, Spain

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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