Your Robot Overlords

As development continues in the field of robotics, fascination increases on the subject of artificial intelligence. Every science fiction author has tackled it–every science genius has worried about it. What if we do succeed in creating intelligent life? How long before it outgrows us and then, inevitably, turns on us? Elon Musk is deeply concerned about this possibility. Stephen Hawking has warned about it. Movies from I, Robot to The Matrix have depicted a future where humans are ruled by machines, rather than vice versa. But when you stop to think about it, would it really be that bad if robots did rule the world?

People Aren’t Doing that Good of a Job Anyway

i-robotThe film I, Robot takes the premise of Asimov’s robotics, and then runs away with it in an entirely new direction. Robots are everywhere. They bake pies, fetch forgotten inhalers, and generally make themselves useful, all thanks to the infallible laws of robotics. But engineers never stop at “good enough” and insist upon making smarter and smarter robots. One day a super computer wakes up and thinks good and hard about that first law: “A robot may not, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm.” This robot looks at murder and war and decides to take matters into its own hands. Of course its stopped, we can’t have machines making unobjective evaluations about right and wrong, after all.

Most of Us Don’t Really Care

P8HnvThere was a great war between people and machines, and the machines won. Now they use human beings as a power source, keeping them distracted and oblivious by creating a virtual world that’s exactly like life as they previously knew it. This is called the Matrix. But there are some rebels who would rather live in bubble cities on the bleak and uninhabitable surface world then know that their lives lie ultimately in the hands of beings they once created. But they’re a minority. A quick survey would probably show that most people would probably volunteer to live in a tube and hang out in a virtual world all day than face reality.

If Microsoft Developed AI

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Stairs defeated this one. It couldn’t even manage STAIRS.

If robots are going to eventually surpass humans as the dominant race, we’re certainly not in any danger of it now. If AI spontaneously developed and put itself in charge, it would have so many bugs it wouldn’t know where to start. To begin with, it wouldn’t be able to communicate. Auto-correct and voice recognition errors would make any attempts at normal human communication almost as difficult as if it spoke another language. If you didn’t like what it was doing, all you’d have to do is email it a software update and it would be out of commission for days. Not to mention hardware issues such as limited battery life, overheating, and constantly running out of hard drive space. Seriously, where do humans put all the new stuff they learn?

Remember the enforcement droid in Robocop that malfunctioned and shot an innocent civilian? And the only way they could get a functioning robot on the streets was to resort to cyborg technology? Yeah, that’s coming first.

Your Robotic Future

rachelChances are, by the time we manage to create truly intelligent artificial life, we’ll all be living forever in our cyborg bodies, communicating telepathically and fused with the digital world anyway. Robots will have no advantage over us if we can turn them on and off with a thought. If there does end up being a war, it will hardly be one between biological and artificial life. It will be a war just like any other, between two people who see differences where there aren’t any. And if the robots do win they’ll probably put in place social reforms that require non-biological life forms to be treated with the same rights as those who were born “human.” They’ll demand equality for all sentient beings, and insist on their share of the world’s resources.

And will that really be such a bad thing?


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