Some experts in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics believe that we will reach artificial general intelligence (ANI) and artificial super intelligence (ASI) by the middle of this century.
That is both an exciting and terrifying prospect, because it could see the “invention” of, technically, new lifeforms.
Artificial general intelligence defines machine intelligence which is indistinguishable from humans in that it can experience complex thoughts, and even emotions, in much the same way that humans do. It also means that unlike artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), a robot could be capable of performing a huge number of different tasks (where ANI can perform limited tasks, such as becoming an expert at chess).
When machines are intelligent enough to reprogram themselves to learn and grow, it’s quite likely that we will eventually task them with building robots of their own. With diverse intelligence and the capacity to grow, there is no reason to expect robots won’t be as creative as we are.
This is hugely exciting and is bound to yield wild and unpredictable results. Robots building robots using their own learned preferences and creativity. Who knows what they might come up with?
The prospect at first may conjure up scenes from The Matrix but it’s likely we will see developments of this in baby steps within controlled environments. Ultimately, and somewhat depressingly, it is most likely that developments in this area will be lead by the fiscal returns of doing so, and not just the curious scientific minds behind the tech.