Once drones get artificial intelligence, they'll rule the world

But once drones come loaded with sophisticated AI and voice-recognition technology, humans won’t have to guide them. Such a drone could, in fact, operate a little more like your dog fetching the newspaper. (For millennial readers, a newspaper is news that was once printed on actual paper and thrown onto the lawn of every home in the neighborhood by a boy riding a bicycle. And yes, that does sound insane.)

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Think for a second about how a dog does this task. First, you train it by showing it what you want it to do—no coding involved. After that, you’re able to say, “Rover, go get the newspaper.” It knows what a newspaper looks like and can find it, whether it has landed on the porch or in the birdbath. The dog picks up the paper and then knows what you look like and the layout of your house, so it can find you and drop the paper at your feet. That’s a complex series of events, and no drone today could do anything like it.

But add learning AI to a household drone, and imagine how it might affect the way we do things. Let’s say you name your drone Rover. You could tell it, “Rover, go pick up Daddy’s medication from CVS.” (If CVS is smart, it will have a drone takeout window tomorrow.) It would know where to go and how to get back to you. Or an AI drone could operate as a watchdog. Hear a noise outside, and you say, “Rover, go check it out.” It could zip around the perimeter and know that the person peeking in your window is a stranger, not your mother-in-law. It might even call 911. For that matter, Rover Drone could watch the house while you’re gone, a flying sentry. There are startups working on technology like this—still in stealth mode, so I’ve pledged not to say much more yet.

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