Dinuka Jayasuriya, also known as ‘PJ,’ lord knows for what reasons, is a man of many, many talents. Not only is he an absolutely fine looking and muscular man who spends endless hours sweating away at the gym, but he is also extremely handy with an acoustic guitar. As great as all of this is describing the man of your dreams (meant for females and the occasional male), the purpose of his existence is to create another. He is fascinated with the field of Artificial Intelligence and is strongly pursuing his plan with pure self-motivation.
Currently finishing up his degree in Software Engineering, he intends to go deeper into the field of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. One day he will have his own company that will work on machines with a thought process that is beyond simple programming of GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). Resolute to finding the answer as soon as possible, his current work is displayed on his site, where he is also searching for like-minded developers who would like to join his team..
He is always looking for new ideas, means and perspectives on his work, and would welcome any worthwhile feedback you would like to give. Be warned: he is known for having long conversations late into the night, discussing the billion unexplained mechanisms of how a person works and what constitutes up a ‘soul’. Here’s a little insight into the world of artificial intelligence and Dinuka’s quest for ‘programming the human conscious’.
We probed a bit further to ask him what AI is, what is happening in the world with it and what he’s creating at the moment. Artificial Intelligence is taking over the world with our smart phones, robotic arms doing surgeries and even the machines that work in an assembly line. We have come to a time where we cannot ignore it as ‘rocket science.’ So here goes:
- What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence is basically the concept of empowering a machine to ‘think’ and ‘reason’ and more importantly mimic human behaviour in terms of communication and logical reasoning to a given problem. Artificial Intelligence is already being used worldwide in small scale and we as humans don’t even realize their insignificant existence since we are ‘just not there yet’ and a strong AI is yet to be developed.
- In layman’s terms, how far has the world come with regard to AI?
Artificial Intelligence, as of now, exists just as a fragment of what is yet to come. Research labs from all around the world and technology giants such as Google have made it to the point where machines can operate a vehicle with pinpoint accuracy and bare the burden of multiple lives, machines that enable us to detect human emotions, facial features and body language and machines that are able to participate in Reality TV Quiz programs such as the notorious “Watson” machine developed with the idea of beating the famous TV show “Jeopardy!”, which in fact won by answering with unbelievable accuracy.
So I would definitely say that we are progressing at a rapid rate but we’ve only explored a fraction of possibilities and the human mind is far too complex to study and be written as a computer algorithm within a couple of years.
- How did you get involved in this?
I was first exposed to Artificial Intelligence by the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” which featured an artificially intelligent system known as “Hal” who interacted with the characters and ‘behaved’ in a human-like manner. Hal fascinated me to the point where I started digging information on building a self-aware system at the age of 16. Fantasy movies are a way of exploiting new possibilities. They are the gateway to a creative imagination and it’s safe to say that they are a sneak-peak to what’s about to come in the future. I was instantly driven by the idea of bringing a machine to life and empowering it with capabilities to think and decide on its own and to reach the level of human cognition. The AI named “Jarvis” featured in the movie; “Iron Man” takes it to the next level with its ability to interact with real-life objects such as machinery and house hold equipment. What if we don’t need to worry about leaving the lights on by mistake anymore if there was a system that automatically controlled this situation? That in my definition is innovation.
- What is the progress of your work so far?
I have successfully made a chatbot programme which communicates using natural language and learns new information from the user. Machine learning framework is at its most basic level but I have been experimenting with different algorithms and I’m finally seeing some results which definitely mean that the project is on the right path. I’m not working with any notable company or person but I am in the process of recruiting programmers with sufficient knowledge in the fields of neural network engineering, natural language processing and speech recognition to put together a team in order to get things running faster.
- What is your ultimate goal?
Simply put, my goal is to develop an artificial being powered by a set of algorithms that allow the machine to learn, think, reason and decide without any human guidance. The dream is to allow this machine to watch us and learn from experience, allow it to access the world wide web to gather information and to finally end up in a fully functional strong AI which is capable of not only mimicking human speech but also to reach human cognition and its many wonders.
- What are some of the difficulties?
The main difficulty is the algorithm involving the artificial implementation of the human conscious. In simpler terms, the ‘gut feeling’ of being alive and allowing the computer to ponder over the fact that it in fact is partially or fully alive and intelligent in its own way. That, in my opinion is the biggest challenge we are facing at the moment.
- Do you think the world would be ready for a conscious robot?
Fortunately, our society is very adaptive and open-minded for new and simpler replacements for advanced implementations. A conscious robot is exactly what every industry and household needs in order to make life much simpler and entertaining. The fact that the AI can find simpler solutions to everyday problems and the fact that the AI can make monotonous tasks more entertaining is just enough reason for people to greet this new concept with open arms. To be honest, who doesn’t like an intelligent conversation with their computers as much as it makes them question their sanity; it is indeed, very cool.
- Can robots ever have ‘free will’ and what’s your opinion of it?
If we succeed in developing artificially conscious beings, ‘free will’ is exactly what their first understanding of life will be. Nobody likes to be confined between 4 walls and knowing so well that outside those walls is a new perspective of life and unlimited possibilities. In this case, a computer screen and a computer motherboard will not suffice an artificially conscious being and its needs. If ever we succeed in developing this project, I believe that ‘free will’ is a right that should be allowed to these newly developed beings.
- Do you think AI will eventually be a necessity?
Yes I believe it will eventually grow on every one of us and people will start using AI technology for activities such as counselling to military purposes. Obviously like any other being, the AI needs to be controlled and governed. The idea of allowing these beings to help us in our day to day lives and the idea of allowing them to come up with intelligent solutions for problems like Cancer and AIDS will eventually be considered as miracles. Are we building Gods? No, but we are building a species led by far more complex cognition than of a human and thus the benefits reaped by these projects will eventually lead people to start using it for each and every task. So yes, AI will eventually be a necessity.