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The Robots Are Coming IELTS Reading Answer

Updated on 26 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Annually, the IELTS test is conducted for students worldwide to assess their mastery of English. This is especially required of students looking to enrol themselves on overseas universities. Though the test is not usually challenging, it can be so if preparations are lacking. It is best to stay up-to-date with question types and patterns through regular practice. The Robots are Coming Reading sample is designed to help students assess their language proficiency within 60 minutes. 

What is the current state of play in Artificial Intelligence?

A. Can robots advance so far that they become the ultimate threat to our existence? Some scientists say no, and dismiss the very idea of Artificial Intelligence. The human brain, they argue, is the most complicated system ever created, and any machine designed to reproduce human thought is bound to fail. Physicist Roger Penrose of Oxford University and others believe that machines are physically incapable of human thought. Colin McGinn of Rutgers University backs this up by saying that Artificial Intelligence 'is like sheep trying to do complicated psychoanalysis. They don't have the conceptual equipment they need in their limited brains.

B. Artificial Intelligence, or Al, differs from most technologies because scientists still understand little about how intelligence works. Physicists have a good understanding of Newtonian mechanics and the quantum theory of atoms and molecules, whereas the fundamental laws of intelligence remain a mystery.

But a sizable number of mathematicians and computer scientists, who are specialists in the area, are optimistic about the possibilities.

To them, it is only a matter of time before a thinking machine walks out of the laboratory. Over the years, various problems have impeded all efforts to create robots. To attack these difficulties, researchers tried to use the 'top-down approach', using a computer to program all the essential rules onto a single disc. Inserting this into a machine would become self-aware and attain human-like intelligence.

C. In the 1950s and 1960s, significant progress was made, but the shortcomings of these prototype robots soon became clear. They were huge and took hours to navigate across a room. Meanwhile, a fruit fly, with a brain containing only a fraction of the computing power, can effortlessly navigate in three dimensions.

Our brains, like the fruit fly’s, unconsciously recognize what we see by performing countless calculations. This unconscious awareness of patterns is exactly what computers are missing. The second problem is robots' lack of common sense. Humans know that water is wet and mothers are older than their daughters. But no mathematics can express these truths. Children learn the intuitive laws of biology and physics by interacting with the real world. Robots know only what has been programmed into them.

D. Because of the limitations of the top-down approach to Artificial Intelligence, attempts have been made to use a 'bottom-up' approach instead – to try to imitate evolution and the way a baby learns. Rodney Brooks was the director of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, famous for its lumbering ' top-down' walking robots. He changed the course of research when he explored the unorthodox idea of tiny 'insectoid' robots that learned to walk by bumping into things instead of mathematically computing their feet' precise position. Today many of the descendants of Brooks' insectoid robots are on Mars gathering data for NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration), running across the dusty landscape of the planet. For all their successes in mimicking the behavior of insects, however, robots using neural networks have performed miserably when their programmers have tried to duplicate in them the behavior of higher organisms such as mammals. MIT’s Marvin Minsky summarises the problems of Al: ‘The history of Al is sort of funny because the first real accomplishments were beautiful things, like a machine that could do well in a maths course. But then we started to try to make machines that could answer questions about simple children’s stories. There’s no machine today that can do that.’

E. There are people who believe that eventually, there will be a combination of the top-down and bottom-up, which may provide the key to Artificial Intelligence. As adults, we blend the two approaches. It has been suggested that our emotions represent the quality that most distinguishes us as humans, that it is impossible for machines ever to have emotions. Computer expert Hans Moravec thinks that in the future, robots will be programmed with emotions such as fear to protect themselves so that they can signal to humans when their batteries are running low, for example. Emotions are vital in decision-making. People who have suffered a certain kind of brain injury lose the ability to experience emotions and become unable to make decisions. Without emotions to guide them, they debate endlessly over their options. Moravec points out that as robots become more intelligent and can make choices, they could likewise become paralyzed with indecision. Future robots need to have emotions hardwired into their brains to aid them.

F. There has yet to be a universal consensus on whether machines can be conscious or, in human terms, what consciousness means. Minsky suggests the thinking process in our brain is not localized but spread out, with different centres competing with one another at any given time. Consciousness may then be viewed as a sequence of thoughts and images issuing from these other, smaller 'minds', each one competing for our attention. Robots might eventually attain a 'silicon consciousness’. Robots might one day embody an architecture for thinking and processing information different from ours – but also indistinguishable. If that happens, the question of whether they really 'understand' becomes largely irrelevant. For all practical purposes, a robot with perfect mastery of syntax understands what is being said.

Read more about: Tips For Reading in IELTS Exam | IELTS Academic Reading | IELTS Reading Tips And Tricks | IELTS Reading Band Score IELTS General Reading Test | IELTS Reading Section |

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Questions 1-7 

The reading passage has six paragraphs A-F. Which section contains the following information? Write the correct letter A-F in boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet. 

NB, you may use any letter more than once. 

1. An insect that proves the superiority of natural intelligence over Artificial Intelligence. 

Answer – C 

Explanation: The author begins Paragraph C of The Robots are Coming Reading Answers sample with how robot prototypes in the 1950s and 60s failed. The robots took at least hours to even navigate across a room properly. On the other hand, the author draws a comparison with a fruit fly. It can navigate in three dimensions effortlessly. So, the fruit fly does what requires vast calculations. This implies the superiority of natural intelligence over Artificial Intelligence. 

2. Robots can benefit from their mistakes. 

Answer – D 

Explanation: From the very opening of the fourth paragraph, the author talks about a proposal made by Rodney Brooks of MIT regarding using a bottom-up approach instead of a top-down approach. Meaning robots would be allowed to make mistakes so that they can better navigate a room instead of using mathematical calculations. This theory is based on how babies learn to walk – by walking, falling, and then walking again. So, paragraph D believes that robots may benefit from their mistakes. 

3. Many researchers are not being put off believing that Artificial Intelligence will eventually be developed. 

Answer – B

Explanation: The very beginning of Paragraph B of The Robots are Coming Reading Answers offers the answer to this question. The author says that researchers believe that very little is currently known about Artificial Intelligence. This differs from other processes, such as quantum Physics and Newton's mechanics. However, they are still optimistic because research is underway to understand how intelligence works. The 'not being put off' implies that researchers are encouraged because very little is known in this area. So, paragraph B is the correct answer. 

4. An innovative approach that is having limited success. 

Answer – D

Explanation: Paragraph D of The Robots are Coming Reading passage starts by mentioning how researchers plan to take the bottom-up approach instead of the top-down one. The author further explains this approach, saying that researchers like Rodney Brooks of MIT are looking forward to experimenting with that approach to see how well robots can navigate across the room. But, later, the author says that the robots performed miserably instead of navigating well across the room, bumping into stuff across the room. Hence, innovative as the approach was, it offered little success. 

5. Some academics are doubting the possibility of creating Artificial Intelligence.

Answer – A

Explanation: We read at the beginning of Paragraph A of The Robots are Coming Reading sample that while some scientists doubt the progress of Artificial Intelligence, others downright dismiss it. They believe no machine could ever replicate something as complex as human thought. This is because the human body is the most complex machine on Earth. So, Paragraph A of the passage holds the answer to this question. 

6. No generally accepted agreement on what our brains do.

Answer – F

Explanation: As per Paragraph F of The Robots are Coming Reading sample, the author talks about what human consciousness exactly is. He starts the passage by mentioning that there is no definite way to understand it. Then, the author talks about Minsky, who believes that thinking in the brain does not happen in a singular spot. It is a more localized process that is spread out into different locations. This makes human consciousness a sequence of images threaded together to form thoughts. The paragraph implies that there is yet to be a consensus on what brains may do. 

7. Robots cannot extend their* intelligence in the same way as humans.

Answer – C

Explanation: The answer to this question may be found in Paragraph C of The Robots are Coming Reading Answers sample. Here, we notice that robots utterly failed to do basic tasks such as navigating a room during the 1950s and 60s experiments. The author compares their poor performance with a fruit fly, which can navigate easily in three dimensions. Further, the author admits that robots do not possess common sense like humans. They cannot understand basics such as the age gap and properties of things – water is wet. So, the natural intelligence of humans does not extend to robots. 

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Questions 8-10 

Look at the following people (Questions 8-10) and the statements below. Match each person with the correct statement A-E. 

Write the correct letter A-E in boxes 8-10 on your answer sheet. 

8. Colin McGinn

Answer – D

Explanation: The answer to this question is found in Paragraph A of the reading passage. Herein, we notice that the author begins the paragraph debating whether or not Artificial Intelligence would progress. Then, towards the end, mention is made of Colin McGinn, who compares robots doing human-like tasks to that sheep performing psychoanalysis. The former does not possess the conceptual knowledge to be successful. Hence, he believed that computers do not have the same degree of intelligence as humans. 

9. Marvin Minsky

Answer – C

Explanation: The answer may be found in Paragraph D of the reading passage. Towards the end, the author talks about Marvin Minsky. He was the one who summarized the problem of AI in simple words. He said that the irony of robots is that it all started well – robots could perform exceptionally in a mathematics course. However, things began going downhill soon enough as robots experimented with children's stories or fiction. Robots had no way to figure out what was being said. This is because they do not possess complex human thought patterns. 

10. Hans Moravec

Answer – A

Explanation: Paragraph E of The Robots are Coming Reading sample offers the answer to this question. Here, the author talks about Hans Moravec, who believes emotions are crucial to decision-making. He thinks the future of robotics holds robots that can express feelings and use them as a guide. For instance – notify when their battery is running low. He also mentions that people with brain injuries may lose touch with emotions, affecting their decision-making capabilities. They endlessly ponder over their choices. 

  1. Artificial Intelligence may require something equivalent to feelings to succeed.
  2. Different kinds of people use other parts of the brain.
  3. Tests involving fiction have defeated Artificial Intelligence so far.
  4. People have intellectual capacities which do not exist in computers.
  5. People have no reason to be frightened of robots.

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