In the not-so-distant future, procurement services may advise manufacturers to acquire artificial intelligence as opposed to human labor.
How can the adaptable, self-teaching machines depicted in thrillers such as "I, Robot" and "Terminator: Salvation" be implemented into production? It all starts with quantum computing, a field computer scientists, physicists and other experts have scrupulously studied.
Leveraging quantum mechanics
For those unfamiliar with the concept, quantum computing is based on the interaction between and behavior of atomic and subatomic particles. While classic machines process information as 1s or 0s (binary code), the value of a quantum bit (qubit) can change from a 1 to a 0, vice versa or be superimposed as a 1 and a 0 simultaneously, according to PCWorld.
What's the significance of this development? Natural News founder Mike Adams cited a complex mathematical equation involving "2 to the power of n possible solutions- where n is a large number like 1024." While it would take a conventional computer an incredibly long time to figure this out (the lifetime of the universe, according to Adams), a quantum computer could find a solution in mere minutes because it operates across multiple dimensions at once.
Powering machine learning
Essentially, the technology leads to the optimization of artificial intelligence, meaning devices can learn from their environments and draw conclusions. How does this affect production companies? Manufacturing.net contributor Chris Fox asserted it starts with the Internet of Things, in which mundane, rudimentary tasks are undertaken by machines.
Implementing IoT devices throughout a factory is now becoming a regular part of the RFP process for many manufacturers. Executives and their subsidiaries both see the technology as a way to reduce labor expenses while simultaneously driving efficiencies. This being established, is an intelligent robot just a creation of science fiction?
Fox acknowledged a study conducted by the University of Oxford in 2013, which identified 702 positions that could be replaced by technology in the next 10 to 20 years. This estimation isn't as far-fetched as some speculators may think, especially when quantum computing gives robots the ability to identify and solve complex problems independently.
Is it plausible for the present?
Strategic sourcing specialists would maintain that procuring a quantum computer simply isn't feasible. Although Canadian enterprise D-Wave has created such a machine (and sold its second generation, 512-qubit device to Google and NASA) it's not necessarily feasible for production companies to purchase such an implementation as of now.