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The existence and coexistence of robots in our world.

There are countries like Japan that like the idea of having robots in every home, every office and basically everywhere, but is this a good idea? Are we eventually going to pay the price for trying to develop self-sufficient robots that can operate similarly to us? Will the movie predictions of evil robots become reality?

WILL OUR WORLD CHANGE?

I purposely use the expression our world in the headline because I do not believe that robots will take over and turn humans into slaves. Eric Horvitz, scientist that is working on Virtual assistant Monica at Microsoft, explained that this possible scenario is always in back of every scientist mind when developing new AI, which stands for Artificial Intelligence. “ These are the kinds of scenarios that we have been thinking about. That some day there will be super-intelligence so bright that we could not understand it.” This was his reaction when asked by Morgan Spurlock if there will be ever time when AI will turn against humans and will be operating by itself without the possibility to be turned off. Even though Mr. Horvitz agreed that these worries are justifiable, he also expressed high optimism about the future peaceful coexistence of humans and robots. His main point was that by building systems that can always be turned off by humans, and by “providing proactive guidance about concerns like this”, is the proper solution. He said that he believes that we are building systems that will love us, compliment us and help us.

ROBOTS AS OUR REPLACEMENTS?

Will robots replace humans at their jobs which will increase the unemployment rate? This would be an understandable assumption since the big industrial revolution happened not so long ago, and it completely diminished some industrial jobs that used to be performed by humans. How did this change our society and how did that shifted the job market? MIT Professor Erik Brynjolfsson expressed worries that our society is not catching up with the fast developing technology that advances faster and faster, and that we are not adjusting to the change fast enough. He mentioned that most data processing jobs like clerks, accountants, bookkeepers are now mostly performed by machines and the people that used to do these jobs have to adjust to this change by changing their expertise. The sooner we understand how technology will change the job market in the coming years the faster we can adjust and get ourselves ready for the new age.

ARE WE IN CHARGE?

I loved Morgan Spurlock’s closing statement in his Inside Man show about robots. He said, “Maybe one day we will face machines that will outperform us, out smart us, and even out human us humans, but for now it is still our planet, so let’s enjoy it while we are still in charge.”

I would add, while we are still in charge, we need to determine the course the technology will go and the level of impact it will have on our future lives. Artificial intelligence can be always used to our advantage and we are responsible to make sure that humans will always be in charge. Robots can coexist with humans and humans can coexist with robots under the right circumstances. One example can be Japan. The society in this country already accepted the fact that robots are great every day helpers that can improve the quality of life according to Kazuo Mizuta, who explained the use of different robots in Japan, and how important they will be in the future, in his article Human and Robots Interaction: When Will Robots Come of Age?.

“Humanity’s existence is supported by mutual dependency that already includes machines and robots (consider the Internet for example).

(Mizuta, 2014 )”

He is right, machines and robots are already in our daily lives and we are dependent on them, but most people do not even realize it.

LET’S BE OPTIMISTIC

Our lives can be much easier and we can be much more productive with the help of robots. We do not have to necessarily look at them as a threat or the possible replacement. Let’s look at them as our helpers and partners that will help us make our existence more enjoyable and less stressful. I have so many things that I would like to accomplish in my life but I have limited time to do so. With my own robot helper I might be able to accomplish so much more in my life than I could ever imagine. Just think about it for a minute and try to see it from the positive side, what would your life look like if you had someone to help you all the times and you could delegate some of your daily tasks on someone else.

References:

Mizuta, K. (2014). Human and Robots Interaction: When Will Robots Come of Age?. World Future Review September, 6, 251–260, doi:10.1177/1946756714555035

Spurlock, M. (Writer), & Garcia-Vlasits, D. Donnell, B. (Directors). (2015). Robots [Television series episode]. In J. Chilnik, M. Galkin, M. Spurlock (Executive producers). Inside Man. Cable News Network, Inc., A TimeWarner Company