04/07/2014 10:32 BST | Updated 04/07/2014 12:59 BST

Artificial Intelligence Is Already Controlling Humans

Following the recent news that a company is ready to unveil its first sentient computer, it now transpires that artificial intelligence is already being used to control humans, on the Hong Kong subway.

When Hong Kong's commuters go to bed, an army of thousands of engineers descend into Hong Kong's subway system ready to start repairs and they're all controlled by a computer.

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That's right, a piece of software surveys and instructs over 10,000 people in the nightly maintenance of one of the world's busiest subway systems.

artificial intelligence

Run by MTR corporation which also manages London Underground this single computer analyses the entire network, accessing repair works by their importance and assigning people as needed to repair them.

With this in mind it's hardly surprising that Hong Kong's subway system maintains a 99.9 per cent on time record.

If you're still not convinced, since installing an AI MTR now saves over two days a week of inefficient work allowing the human overseers to better prepare for emergency repairs.

For the AI to work properly MTR has tied it not only into the subway network but also the regulatory database, so it can see a repair, assess the regulations that need to be adhered too and then give an objective decision.

How it works is really quite impressive: The AI will analyse a problem and then come up with multiple solutions, the computer will then let those solutions battle it out until the most efficient one is found. Naturally this all happens in a matter of milliseconds.

According to the New Scientist the Hong Kong subway isn't the only place where task-specific AI is used; all of Hong Kong's passport and visa applications are handled by artificial intelligence.