7 Questions About A.I. Robots

March 10, 2023

The Rise of the Robots is happening now! Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) appear to be driving Hollywood’s movie magic from the Big Screen to larger parts of our daily lives. Services such as cleaning, disinfecting, lawn care and security are only a few of the ways in which robots are helping more and more people each day. And this trend is only accelerating!

For those of you I haven’t had a chance to meet, I’m William Santana Li, Chairman and CEO of Knightscope, Inc. (NASDAQ: KSCP). Given Knightscope’s leadership in deploying Autonomous Security Robots (ASRs) across the country, I am often flooded with questions or called upon to share our expertise with those who want to know more about these complex subjects.

In just a few short weeks, Knightscope will be a featured speaker during a panel discussion at one of the world’s largest security conferences, ISC West, in Las Vegas.  Plus anyone can sign up to participate in our Robot Roadshow that is touring the United States sharing the benefits of robotics, A.I. and self-driving technology.

In the meantime, here are my answers to 7 Questions About A.I. Robots!

Q1. What role does A.I. play in Knightscope today?

WSL: Well, let’s define it first. A google search of Artificial Intelligence returns “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

There are numerous places we utilize A.I.  Robots must autonomously navigate both outdoors and indoors in dynamic and static locations. They need to map out the environments in which they operate, find themselves in the map they just created, then make decisions on navigating within those environments including re-planning (in car speak, Level 5 fully autonomous, not remote control… and despite what the interwebs might say, there is no one inside our robots!) – and do this 24/7/365 without human intervention.

Machines must also make decisions on when and how to autonomously recharge themselves. They use computer vision to detect a person or a license plate, and then utilize optical character recognition to read the license plate automatically – and perhaps compare it to a database - even sending alerts when something is going wrong.

This is just the beginning – there is so much left to do, and the future is filled with so many opportunities!

Q2. What role could A.I. play at Knightscope in the future?

WSL: It is an endless opportunity in my eyes.  We want to continue to improve our autonomy stack plus get the machines to see, feel, hear, smell and speak. A.I. is developing so rapidly that it would not surprise me to see its capabilities expand to do 100 times more than a human could ever do in certain applications, and do so consistently with a perfect memory.  That is going to require a massive amount of compute!

We could also use it internally in the much shorter term to help with preventative maintenance.  Or even seasonality impact on our navigation strategy. Or the concept of a “patrol schedule” recommendation engine based on activity at a specific client site.

But probably the most enticing (and controversial) benefit would be linking massive amounts of historical data (crime, weather, location, patterns, etc.) with real-time, on-site data to be able to “Predict and Prevent Crime.”  It’s been shown that it is possible to make a positive impact on crime through multiple studies just using historical data, but I still believe without knowing what is happening real-time on the ground right now – that algorithm is flawed. It would be the financial equivalent of trying to run a hedge fund while the markets are closed. You have no idea what is going on right now and you are solely relying on historical data to predict the near future.  A.I. holds the promise of doing a lot of good in society.

Q3. How could Knightscope utilize ChatGPT?

WSL: It is so new, and everyone is still processing the impact (and of course, the technology still needs work), but it is super exciting and eyebrow raising. I personally believe that once latency issues are addressed, as well as perhaps needing 6G cellular to help speed things up, providing an A.I. driven “Concierge” feature would greatly improve the capabilities of our robots – to be able to hold a real-time proper human-to-machine conversation.  We tried a long, long time ago to do something similar with 4G LTE and IBM Watson, but the technology was just not ready then.  The value creation opportunity, however, still exists and just needs more technology industry advancements to make it a reality. It will happen in my view.

A different way to look at ChatGPT is as adding another employee to your team – or perhaps giving every teammate ‘a really smart buddy’ that can help them with their respective day-to-day tasks.  It could be research, it could be coding, it could be writing copy for a press release or blog.  Some of the technologies out there can be used to create digital art – including the cover image used for this blog!

Q4. Given the rising concern about robots taking over the world, what will/do you do about safety? How do you prevent a hacker from taking control?

WSL: First, it should be noted that almost everything is hackable in some way – and you’ve seen that across almost every sector.  Second, our business model is a Machine-as-a-Service (MaaS) so our clients subscribe to an all-inclusive offering which includes the hardware, software, electrical, telecom, data, data transfer, data storage, upgrades, etc.  That means we own the assets - and therefore we are in control of them.  Third, we have a staff operating 24/7/365 monitoring the health of the machines.  Fourth, we have spent the last 2+ years working to get through a rigorous cyber security review process with the U.S. Federal Government and we are hopeful that in 2023 we will receive our ATO ("Authority to Operate") from them, which should help instill further confidence and open up many new opportunities for us in the federal space.

Q5. Do you believe there should be a regulatory body overseeing, governing or otherwise setting some A.I. ground rules?

WSL: Yes. Do you think there should be a thoughtful regulatory body overseeing planes, trains, automobiles, electricity, or medicine? We have those with the U.S. Dept of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These technologies can do a massive amount of good for society – but can also be extremely dangerous. My big worry is that government works at a massively different clock speed than technology – and unless it was started ten plus years ago, it is going to be very difficult to catch up and implement.

Q6. Should we fear A.I.?

WSL: The same was asked about electricity ages ago.  Some might have said electricity could kill humans, it could hurt you or it was the work of the devil.  But as the technology matured and people saw the step change in value, so did their opinions. I want to say the word ‘respect’ would be better than fear.  Respecting the fact that it is extremely powerful, proceeding with caution including guardrails, but learn how to use it to better society is a much healthier mindset than fear.  There are a lot of amazing things coming in the future – we should be hopeful and excited!

Q7. Are the robots coming to take all our jobs and kill us all?

WSL: The robots are not coming. They are already here!  From the manufacturing floor to the operating table for surgeries to delivery robots and self-driving vehicles plus our own Autonomous Security Robots (ASRs), the robots are already contributing to society in a positive way.  And I firmly believe they will help create millions and millions of new jobs and otherwise assist in making workers in their existing jobs much more productive, effective and safe. The humans are the ones that will end up becoming even more powerful.

P.S. To be abundantly clear, Knightscope corporate policy is to never arm the robots with weapons.  If we want society to trust a new technology and build comfort around a new innovative public safety strategy, the last thing we need to be doing is tasing someone or otherwise doing anything on the offensive side.  Let the machines do the monotonous and computationally heavy work and let the humans do the decision making and enforcement work!

Knightscope, Inc. (NASDAQ: KSCP) is a leading developer of autonomous security robots and blue light emergency communication systems.  Learn more at www.knightscope.com/rise and follow William Santana Li on Twitter @WSantanaLi

DISCLAIMER: Views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of William Santana Li.

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