Sharing the World with Robots

Shawna Anderson

To begin to comprehend this question and seek out answers, let’s look at the past. The 18th Century was dominated by the agricultural revolution. The 19th and 20th centuries were dominated by the industrial revolution, and the 21st century has become the information/computer tech revolution. The tipping point for the robotics revolution occurred in 2014, primarily because of the increased deployment of drones both commercially and militarily.

AI systems can now outperform humans at playing chess, recognizing faces, and driving safely. Most researchers say, truly conscious machines, ones that don’t just run programs but have feelings and are more self-aware are only decades away. Although, there is one element that robotics, research, and rolling predictions cannot measure. That is the x-factor of politics and corruption. Some suggest that the U.S government may one day need to implement a regulatory organization similar to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission for robotics.

Robots are spreading into the human world. Passenger aircraft’s have long been able to land themselves. Driverless trains are commonplace and fully self-driving vehicles are being tested around the world. As robots become more autonomous, society needs to find ways to ensure that they are better equipped to make moral judgments. As they become smarter and more widespread, autonomous machines are bound to end up making life or death decisions in unpredictable situations.

Machines can prove as stubborn as humans. The trick is to give robots enough intrinsic motivation to make them better problem solvers, and not so much that they quit and walk out of the lab. We will have to be ready to accept the fact that machines might eventually make moral decisions that none of us find acceptable. The only condition is they must be able to give intelligible reasons for what they’re doing. An intelligible reason meaning one that you can at least see why someone might find it morally motivating even if you don’t agree.

Robots have a role in the workplace but humans will always be crucial. Recent research from The Nikkei and The Financial Times has found that about one-third of 2,000 workplace tasks currently performed by humans can be done by machines. In Japan, the number is even higher with half of all tasks able to be completed by a robot.

Changing the way our economy works is not necessarily a bad thing. We need to ask the questions, what jobs won’t or can’t robotics take away and what jobs will emerge that we could have never imagined. If, in fact, robots were productive enough that we no longer needed to work and are instead paid a universal income, what job would you want?

For more information check out these websites:

I, Robot, What’s Next

Posted: July 21, 2017 In:

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