SOCIETY & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
In addition to paid-joblessness, there are several major societal issues that exponentially-increasing technological advances demand consideration. Questions to be answered include:
- Do we need to protect ourselves from robots deciding that, once they are able to reproduce and maintain themselves, that the world has no use for us fallible humans?
- What moral and ethical considerations need to be considered – or is it sufficient to require that the software for every robot should include Isaac Asimov’s 1942 Three Laws of Robotics:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
- What ethical decisions can a robot or AI generally be allowed to make, especially life-and-death decisions?
- What regulations, covering design, security, privacy, data protection, etc. should be implemented to restrict the application of AI, how could they be enforced effectively – and who should be doing the enforcing?
The first and most dramatic issue is whether robots will become so powerful that they will see no value in the existence of human life. This argument has become one-sided – concentrating on robotic development, and ignoring how developments will affect humans.
Undoubtedly, current robotic research is designed to make robots more capable physically than humans, while continuing to make them more human-like. Bi-pedal robots will soon be covered by a material that will look and feel like skin. Their facial features will likewise be indistinguishable from ours. A robot connected to the internet is already far more capable in terms of knowledge and reasoning than any person. The most challenging research area involves emotions, and considerable efforts are being made to at least simulate emotions like empathy and even love. (The Japanese with an increasingly older demographic are developing robotic caregivers for the elderly, and are leading research into emotional simulation.)
But much of the same research is being used to increase human capability. Exoskeletons are being used in the construction industry and to help people without any physical capability to walk on their own. Prostheses are replacing lost or damage limbs with more capable artificial versions. Research will result in artificial eyes that see better, ears that hear better, and voices that will speak in multiple languages – and eventually the neocortex will be connected wirelessly to the internet. Even now, thoughts are being captured by sensors and transmitted to machines that understand them – without any physical intervention.
So while robots are being developed to become increasingly human-like, people are being developed to become increasingly robot-like. Is it not likely that the two developments will merge into a single race?
The videos and reference articles below are a brief representative part of the ongoing discussion of possible answers to these questions.