Human machine convergence
One of the result of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative by FDC-IEEE was the recognition that technology evolution is affecting both machines (machine is used in a broad sense, to include robots, software bots, prosthetics, hacked DNA in living being like bacteria, new life forms …) and humans determining, over a period of 20 to 30 years, a convergence where the dividing line between human and machines will become blurred. This does not imply that machines become humans nor that humans become machine, just that the overall behaviour and intelligence will be resulting from an integration of both.
The forecast of a convergence derives from the trends of
- machines becoming more and more intelligent, able to interact with humans and leveraging on humans capabilities, and
- humans making more and more use of machines to augment themselves.
That this integration is expected to take a long time frame should not lead to think that it is an issue not worth exploring now because:
- the path has already started and the first signs of convergence are here and are starting to impact our lives;
- the societal, political and economic implications are better faced now rather than as an afterthought.
The integration may actually take several forms, not mutually exclusive:
- a flanking of humans and machines mediated by the cyberspace through Digital Twins
The rapid uptake of Digital Twins and their first use to bring a person’s digital copy in the cyberspace will pave the wave to a smooth integration with machine. The complexity of the interactions can be mediated in the cyberspace by the digital twins, those of the machines and those of the humans. Industry 4.0 can be a first case in point, possibly followed by advanced surgery where coordination among human surgeons and robotic surgeons is essential. An area where seamless collaboration among humans and machines might have already been progressed is military where robot soldiers and human soldiers can form a team (but very few information is available)
- an embedding of machines in humans (smart prosthetics, smart bacteria…)
Smart prosthetics are starting to seamlessly interact with the human body (and viceversa) resulting in a seamless collaboration and convergence. Exoskeletons are starting to be adopted to augment human’s capabilities in assembly lines and this represents another example of convergence.
- a projection of some human characteristics in a machine
The foreseen evolution of cognitive digital twins will make possible to mirror a person’s knowledge in the cyberspace and to inject it into a machine.