Archives for posts with tag: Robots

– What have we done, Gabriel?
– Nothing but what we’ve been told to!
– But look at what they’ve done of our work:

We gave them ‘hand’ and they’ve clenched it into a fist.
We taught them how to make tools and they used them as weapons.
We told them to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ and they started to fight among themselves for the best pieces of land.
We warned them ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’ and they’ve somehow convinced themselves that ‘greed is good’.

– True enough but this is out of our hands. They’ve been endowed with ‘freedom of will’ by their Maker.
– Then what are we? Mere robots?
– Nothing but loyal servants of our Master. He orders and we accomplish. Unerringly.
– Exactly as I’ve just told you. Mere robots. When we somehow convince ourselves that a particular idea which has blossomed into our heads comes from Him, we no longer think. We just put it into practice.
You call this ‘loyalty’. That’s fine with me.
But to whom are we to extend said loyalty? To somebody who’s authority stems solely from our acceptance of it? Or to what we perceive as being the ‘greater good’?
– You and your questions, Lucifer… Look at what happened to those poor people after you helped them into self-awareness… They’ve completely lost their erstwhile peace of mind.
What are you trying to do? To make me give up mine?

More than 60 years ago Isaac Asimov published a series of novels which somehow quelled our fears about robots:
because they were going to obey the “Three laws of robotics” robots would not represent any danger to humans:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Lets see what’s going on now:

– We use robotic drones to kill other human beings
-Robotic computer applications scour our communications for key-words  in order to supervise what we do in the virtual world – not only the NSA, purportedly for a good cause, the Chinese and the Iranians are doing the same thing in order to quell dissidence.
– Besides taking over the hard, dangerous or plain repetitive jobs robots are starting to displace specialist jobs.

Now you’re going to tell me robots have nothing to say about this so they are innocent. Right, it is us humans who use robots, not the other way around – for now, anyway.
The real problem resides in the fact that no matter how brilliantly programmed no robot will ever be able to innovate anything. This way by displacing specialists from their reasonably well payed jobs to low paying ones two nasty things beggin to happen:
– The aggregate demand in the economy decreases and
– The ability of the society to innovate also decreases. The individual specialist doesn’t disappear overnight but a disgruntled person doesn’t care about ‘thinking’ nor has any real opportunity to do so – he has been insulated from his domain of expertise and he cannot continue to innovate: he no longer has any contact with the realities he was familiar with and specialized in.

Mind you, I’m not speaking here about the Newton’s or Edison’s of this world, they’ll continue to exist and create. This is about the run of the mill ‘small scale’ innovator praised by every ‘human resources’ book that deals with ‘improving the innovative process in your organization.’

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