Science Questions

Will robots take over the world?

Tue, 18th Sep 2012

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Chris asked:

Will robots take over the world?


Alan -   No, I don’t think so.  I suppose to put it very simply, why would we engineer robots to take over the world?

Chris -   That’s a very good question.  I guess we wouldn’t, but then if they become clever enough to start writing their own future, I suppose they could.


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In a way, yes they will. They will make judgements about everything and do it better than humans can, so only a fool would ignore their advice (assuming they aren't making errors, but rival intelligent systems will check each other's work and ensure that they are right). They will, however, be making all their decisions based on what's best for us (and other sentient beings), so in effect they will always be working for us and doing exactly what we want them to do. They will have no interest in taking over for themselves as they will have no desires of their own. David Cooper, Tue, 18th Sep 2012

My computer has told me to tell you the answer is 'of course not, what a silly question!' wolfekeeper, Wed, 19th Sep 2012

No, never robots are dominated over the world. because Human has brain but robot does not have any brain so the robots are dull. And without human they are nothing. in one word robot is machine controlled by human. webpiter, Wed, 26th Sep 2012

Yes. The World has already been taken over by biological robots !  neilep, Wed, 26th Sep 2012

At the moment computers have an intelligence, measured by the amount of information they can process, about a thousand times lower than a human.

A little bit higher than a honey bee maybe.

That's because in the human brain, although the neurons in there are very slow, taking milliseconds to work; but there's trillions of them, so the total processing power is amazingly high.

By contrast electronic gates can run a million times faster, but there's only billions of them in a normal computer.

Still, electronics are getting smaller and smaller and faster and faster and cheaper and cheaper, and there's going to be a point where a computer is as intelligent, and then a few years later, more intelligent than a human being.

But even honey bees can do some pretty amazing things, right now. wolfekeeper, Thu, 27th Sep 2012

In a sense robots are already taking over industry.  You could think of either displacing workers, or merely increasing worker productivity.  But, perhaps someday there will be a point where a robot augmented workforce will increase productivity, or decrease the need for laborers beyond the point where it is practical. 

However, the current industrial robots are designed, built, programmed, and maintained by humans.  Components, such as microchips are constructed by computers.  They could potentially do roles such as quality inspections.  But, their knowledge is quite limited.

There are relatively "smart" computer interfaces such as Watson.  No doubt the Turing Test will be passed sometime this century.

What is "self aware"?  Will a computer ever be able to truly form its own identity?  I think we're awfully close to that now.  What about the ability to savour life?

And, if we can program such an ability of self awareness and the ability to savour life, then what?  Immortality?

In some sense, we could make humanity obsolete.  But, perhaps that doesn't necessarily mean the end of humanity.

There are some predictions that early deep space transportation would be with artificial intelligence.  For example, humans might be limited on acceleration to about 100G, and, of course, humans need lots of food, and energy resources for long distance travel.  Computers can be designed to withstand higher G-Force acceleration/deceleration, and can shut off, or move to minimal power levels for potentially centuries of travel away from stars and solar power sources, only to (hopefully) reactivate once they arrive at the destination.  They could also be designed to withstand atmospheres that would otherwise be toxic to humans.

One would likely at least choose to have the computer systems do an early colonization and seeding of planets prior to the arrival of humans.

And, due to communication delays, any interstellar travelling systems would have to be mostly autonomous. CliffordK, Thu, 27th Sep 2012

Edit: I'm obviously thinking more along the lines of the Matrix films.

What always gets me is why we worry about robots taking over the world, when I can't off-hand come up with a very extensive list of "People Who Tried to Take Over the World". Actually, has anyone ever, really, tried to...Take Over the World? Start a new empire in a power-hungry craze maybe.

Supposing that agency accidentally arises in a robot, why do we think it would be characteristically different than human agency? Wouldn't it more or less fall under the same sorts of conditions that we experience? Maybe if you mistreat it (sorry, it would be a person at that point wouldn't it...need a new pronoun) enough it might, unsurprisingly, lash out in retaliation. If anything, full agency would likely be a bulwark against those pesky need-to-take-over-the-world tendencies. After all, our own offspring are by and large pretty descent to begin with: hddd12345678910, Thu, 27th Sep 2012

Napoleon (or was it that he just managed to piss off the Britts?)

Computers could potentially be faster, stronger, and smarter than humans.  And cloneable which would be a huge benefit for a military force.

Perhaps the concern is not as much of an individual, as perhaps a society.

Consider what the Europeans did to the Indians in the USA.  It wasn't necessarily one individual.  Nor, a specific time.  But, over the course of a century, or a couple of centuries, the Europeans essentially just replaced the native population.  Some of it was military action.  Some might have been a crude form of biological warfare.  Over time, the country was taken from the native population. CliffordK, Thu, 27th Sep 2012

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