Will robots replace us?
Source : Google photo of a humanoid robot
Synopsis: At the rate the robotic technology is evolving , soon it may become super intelligent using artificial intelligence that allows it to learn itself and perform better in any job it is designed for but there is a danger. One day these super robots may be able to control us and decide what is good for us and what is not because they will be autonomous and not under any one’s control. This blog discusses some of the issues.
We have all seen a sophisticated drone that flies over Afghanistan, locates a target, zooms its camera on it to enlarge the target , verifies it then releases a missile on it to completely destroy it. It is so accurate that it can kill an individual or a group of terrorists so many armies use drones for surveillance, target terrorists or military installations and can destroy them using a pilot-less machine controlled remotely from somewhere.
The modern technology makes it possible to fly a drone remotely using satellite guidance system and accurately hit a target anywhere. It is pilot-less so it is expendable and can be subject to ground fire . The big drones are expensive but less than a modern fighter aircraft with two pilots but they can do what the fighter planes can and a whole lot cheaper so it seems that the drones will be increasingly used in military conflicts . Many countries make their own drones that can stay aloft for long time because they are light and fuel efficient.
But drones are not robots because they need a human handler who flies the drone from the comfort of his airbase so for the handler, it is like playing a video game except for the fact that the drones are real and can cause heavy damage on the ground.
A robot is independent of a handler because it does not need a remote handler like a drone . What it is supposed to do is programmed into it so you see them welding car parts together, spray painting them and expertly checking for flaws and repainting them. There are factories in Japan where very sophisticated automated machines make auto parts and work 24 hours a day with only a few bored supervisors who keep an eye on them and move in just in case of an emergency. These automated machines are robots.
Robots are now being used to build ships, planes, automobiles , trucks and military hardware etc. in many countries and have replaced workers doing dangerous jobs .They are used in deep mines where they extract minerals , cut tunnels , load the extracted minerals onto trolleys that are then sent to the surface.
They are used in underwater explorations in deep oceans without risking the lives of deep sea divers so the robots are used in numerous ways now and newer ways are found every day to make use of them in jobs that are too risky for humans. We now see an explosion of new types of robots that can walk, talk, take your order in restaurants and bring your food to you silently. They can dance and even play some musical instruments or do numerous other chores like acting as a receptionist because they are programmed to do so by expert programmers.
The robots can do what the humans can do but do it better because they do not tire like humans and can work as long as needed so you will now see more and more robots taking over jobs in vehicle assembly plants , in making clothes in automated looms and even assembling minute parts to makes watches. They make very sophisticated circuit boards used in cell phones or electronic devises like television sets flawlessly because they are programmed to do so being autonomous.
The worldwide use of robots is increasing because they are cost effective and can replace many workers thus saving considerable money for the companies. The robots do not go on strike for higher wages and do not need long training to do the job. Now some hospitals are using robotic surgery for certain type of operation that are very tiresome for humans. There are robotic trucks being tested on roads that are pre programmed to run on a fixed route taking their guidance from a satellite so it is no longer a science fiction but very real. You all have heard of self driving cars that are being tested.
In the future their roles may include driving you to your destination in comfort in robotic cars or fly you in robotic planes or helicopters, deliver packages to your door or pick up your package to be delivered somewhere else.
Source : U tube video of robots
So the robots are here to stay and are taking over the jobs people used to do so what will people do if most of the jobs are taken over by robots? I can understand if the robots take over the dangerous jobs and save lives so that people can find jobs that are not dangerous and even enjoyable but what if they make robots that can replace people doing mundane jobs or fun jobs in the future? How will millions of people earn their living if they are replaced by robots in the future? That is the question this blog raises.
The agriculture sector in any country employs large number of people who work very hard to plant crops and harvest them but now we see robotic machines taking over the tiresome job of plowing, planting and harvesting working long hours in any kind of weather so where these people will find new jobs to earn a living?
One thing the robots can’t do is to think like humans .They are just machines that are programmed to do some jobs in a certain predetermined way and nothing more. But soon that may change when the next generation of robots are programmed to think like humans using artificial intelligence ( AI ). People say that there are scientists who are working on AI using computers that will be able to read your thoughts in the future that I find very disturbing.
Imagine if they make a robot that starts to think like a human someday and makes decisions faster than a human. Imagine a robot that is so intelligent that Einstein looks like a moron . Imagine a robot that stores the entire encyclopedia in all the languages in its brain and recalls any information instantly to arrive at a decision. Imagine a robot that learns from its mistakes or the mistakes of other robots and never repeats it. Imagine a robot that knows all the laws in all the countries and instantly recalls them to defend or prosecute someone very successfully in any court of law? May be it will put all the crooked lawyers and judges out of work and reduce corruption.
Imagine a robot that can just look at you and read your brain waves that your brain emits when you are thinking and is capable to translate it into a language that it understands instantly. It is scary but we are fast approaching the day when such a robot will appear somewhere because many scientists and computer experts are working hard to develop such a robot. They say that the AI or artificial intelligence is the future.
Source : U Tube video on dangers of Artificial intelligence in robots
There was a Hollywood movie I saw sometime ago and promptly forgot its title but it showed that an autonomous war plane takes off vertically from a carrier and decides to go on its own to attack a target in another country and disobeys all commands from the commanders on the ground so finally a brave pilot shoots the rogue war plane down from a distance with its missiles. It looks like the science fiction now but Jules Verne also wrote about Captain Nemo and the Nautilus long before such machines were made so today’s science fiction has a way of turning up for real in the future.
There are people hard at work in many countries who are trying to make science fiction a reality so we are seeing the development of robots that are smart, very intelligent and can do many things better and faster than human without tiring. But what bothers me is the development of autonomous machines with AI and their use for military purposes or for spying or getting a confession from a detainee by reading its secrets in the brain.
Such a robot will be able to make any person’s brain transparent by reading what the person is thinking and use that knowledge to the advantage of a government that plans to use the knowledge to wage war on another country. It can create all sorts of trouble in the world and increase the chances of war waged by a dictator on another country that does not have such robots.
Many nations keep some secrets that they guard jealously because revealing them can cause harm to the country or to others. This is how the spy agencies collect information on others and use such information to their advantage. The use of robots by the military is nothing new. But totally autonomous robots can be scary because no one may be able to control them like that rogue fighter plane shown in the movie. It can start a nuclear war between two countries because it can decide by itself the level of threat and make a preemptive strike on its own. That is very scary when humans lose control over such machines that can do immense harm.
There are now missiles tipped with nuclear bombs that once launched can reach their target no matter where in a very short time evading all radars and other defensive measures because it can see day and night and is equipped with AI that permits it to maneuver itself while in flight. This kind of robotic weapon is already a reality in some countries.
I am more concerned with job losses when the robots replace humans. In developing countries where agriculture is their mainstay employing millions of people who depend on it for making a living , the automation of agriculture is still a long way off for them so they do not have to worry for now. But even there we see a trend in the land consolidation to make automation or the use of machines for large scale farming by big corporations is on the rise pushing poor people off their land so they end up in cities.
I am also concerned about the factory workers who may lose their jobs due to automation there as is happening in many countries. Such trend has a tremendous impact on the rate of unemployment in any country that can go up causing social unrest.
The scientists develop new technologies that can often harm the mankind like the development of the atom bomb that was later used on Japan to kill innocent people . They created a monster that is now out of its bottle that cannot be put back in causing world wide tension and a rising threat of nuclear war somewhere so not all technologies are benevolent in their nature.
If they can create intelligent robots that can diagnose any disease in a person and find a quick and cheap solution , that will help millions of poor people who can’t afford costly healthcare in costly hospitals. The rising cost of health care is a serious issue that most countries are facing with but are unable to cope.
It can save poor people from the greedy doctors who want to operate on a pregnant woman for delivery instead of natural birth because they make more money. So the intelligent robots can significantly reduce the health care cost.
How many times we have heard of a plane crash due to pilot fatigue ? It has happened many times but an intelligent plane that can safely land itself is not a science fiction but a reality although a pilot still keeps an eye on it all the time in flight. So that is the key. We must not lose control over machines no matter how intelligent it is so that we can always control it and remain its master.
You can have a car that drives itself but you still need to sit in the driver’s seat and keep an eye on it just in case it does not work the way it should. The technology today is fast evolving but we must not let it overwhelm us in a way that makes us lose control.
I will just give you one example how harmful a technology can be in the hands of common people that is being used to create mischief. Now a days almost everybody has a cell phone in his hand . Bad people use their cell phones that are now called smart phones to spread false news rapidly to thousands of people that can cause riots and communal tension in a country like India. No one can control them so they misuse or abuse the technology that was created to make communication easier.
I am not against technology. I am against the abuse of technology that brings harm to people. If the robots create unemployment everywhere then I am against it. If robots start replacing the human touch, love and care then it is not a good thing.
Now watch this video here that explains why artificial intelligence can be so dangerous.
Source : U tube on artificial intelligence and its dangers
We now live in the era of scientific breakthroughs in numerous fields that are changing the way we live, communicate, work and travel. It is very different from the previous generation that depended on technologies of their time but the times have changed to impact us positively as well as negatively.
We must not forget that we should control the new technologies and not let it control us in the future. The collective power of technology controlled by the artificial intelligence can be disastrous for the humanity . Such genies can’t ever be put back in the bottle.
Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:
La biografía de anil en español.