I’m not sure if you’ve all been keeping up with the latest news on robotics and artificial intelligence but there seems to be a lot of advancement in the area lately. Or maybe it’s been happening for a long time but all the results are coming out now, like all these research agencies/companies have had an assignment set and now they have to report on it. I’m not following these developments closely, however it does present a great deal of wonderful and terrifying thought provocation. Or maybe that’s just my mind working overtime again.
Any sci-fi follower’s mind is flooded with images, scenarios and thoughts by the simple mention of the topics. Science fiction in its nature has usually been a pretty dark place. The popularly acclaimed writers of the genre (like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick) have had the most success with their dystopian or sociopolitically confronting works and thanks to the Terminator movies the idea of technology, artificial intelligence and robots taking over the World is often the first stop on the way through a conversation about technological evolution.
Anyway, back to the reports. It looks like everything’s coming together from various angles. Robots are being taught to feel emotions, teach themselves to speak, learn about others and let’s not forget the important things – play soccer, communicate with bees and become supermodels.
With all the “humanising” of robots, there’s the natural apprehension that Skynet WILL become self-aware. Then again, if they DO get emotions as well as intelligence; there’s something else we need to consider.
Today I got a phone-call from my mobile service provider. It was completely automated and by the end of it I became aware of an amazing factual possibility. You might even say I had an epiphany.
Excuse me, are you currently happy with your long-distance provider?
If robots learn to be like us – if they learn to speak our languages, understand and FEEL our emotions, it means that in addition to the super-bots, there will be underachievers. For all the logic-driven and achieving robots that may or may not want to destroy the human race, there will be those who want to get something for nothing and sit around smoking pot and watching daytime TV (or whatever the robot equivalent of being a slacker is).
It has been touched on in science fiction before and I’m sure that the supermodel-bots would agree with me here. Sometimes, killing people and taking over the World isn’t the only thing that robots want to do. Some may prefer to be artists, or engineers, or doctors.
If we’re working on making them suitable companions for ourselves and filling their “brains” with human emotions, we can be guaranteed that there will be robotic reprobates. We are, after all, currently building robots to perform menial tasks such as cleaning, cooking and building other machines. Give them free thought and instead of saying “I can rule the universe!”, they might just say “Forget this! I’m going to sit around the house and play Farmville.” Because after all – we can’t stop them.