I’ve just seen Robocop again, just for amusement and I realized there is a flaw in the way we imagine robots. Most robots are not depicted as ambidextrous even if that capability can be easily achieved due to the multitasking capability of current computers and softwares.
The only exception I remember of is the robot in “I, Robot” who could draw using both hands at the same time. I guess our own nature is the one to limit our imagination since we can usually use effectively only one hand at a time.
Furthermore, robots can use more limbs and an usefull adittion would be wheels. Multitasking will enable a much better motricity, and many other things we now only begin to imagine.
I’ve just finished Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s a very engaging story from a writer with strong roots in natural science. I believe Asimov’s work is extraordinary for his time, but some flaws are visible today.
Four major flaws, in my opinion, are the assumption that robots will remain metallic in essence, human in appearance and thinking, bound by laws to obey and protect us; and that they are a temporary stage in the history of humankind. It’s obvious to us that biosynthetic materials are a much better alternative to metals. It’s strange that a biochemist couldn’t foresee such an alternative.
The human appearance isn’t a must, and creating complex machines for simple tasks is inefficient. I believe a robot connected to several simpler machines makes much more economical sense. Therefor, the human appearance has more of a romantic charm. Human forms will exist, and even other natural forms (like pets), but they won’t have the same autonomy and complexity as a central operating computer. Robots will become more hive thinking.
“The Three Laws of Robotics” is an ideal. The complexity of the concepts of good and bad are beyond comprehension even to us. It’s a matter that even Asimov hits in the second Foundation Series were Daneel can’t decide witch of the possible alternatives is the best for humankind: First Foundation, Second Foundation or Gaya. In themselves, these laws are the charm of the Robots Series because of their relativeness.
The forth flaw is a more “psihohistorical” matter. It’s hard to believe humankind will stop using such a help. In all his history, humankind has used some sort of help in order to do his job. It’s our distinguishing mark. We used clubs, bows and arrows instead of our hands. Horses were our alternative to feet. Engines were just their replacements. Computers are our replacements for calculations and routine tasks, perhaps for thinking all together . Robots are the natural next step.
Due to SF movies, action movies like Terminator and Robocop, or even new ones like I, Robot!; se tend to see the the muscles and tendons of the robots like pistons. The future will surely be different.
One big problem of current robots is grabbing objects and walking. The main issue is the fact, that their hands and their feet don’t have plastic deformation properties. This issue will probably be resolved using piezoelectric materials, but that will take some time. Probably, the advent of such materials will make robotic muscles cheap, and thus, easy to come by.
The next step will be to make materials that learn by time. A little bit of nanotechnology will enable piezoelectric materials to learn and, maybe, to grow.
I’ve recently read this post from this Paleo-Future blog. Basically, robots could become sexual partners for humans. They might, even, become better sexual partners for humans and humans might even abandon their human sexual partners and become isolated individuals. I don’t believe this will happen at a larger scale than it does today with prostitution and sexual objects.
I remember a particular experiment with a mouse and 2 buttons. One button gave him food and the other one gave him an sexual excitation. The mouse pushed the sex button to exhaustion, being more interested in sex than eating. We are also driven by powerful sexual impulses, but not to this extent.
Firstly, we are social animals, society defines us. We can’t exist without a society, we must interact with other humans. Finding a lifetime partner is a must for the majority of us. Love is probably the thing we search mostly in a relationship. Also, we must work in order to achieve our goals. Sex isn’t everything.
Yes, robots will become more than tin cans, more than sex toys. They will have intelligence and will be able to work with humans (not just in physical jobs), to have sex with humans and ultimately love and be loved by humans. By then, they will stop being robots and we will stop being just humans.
The fear that they will defeat us, enslave us, destroy us, make monkeys out of us… many movies and stories exploited it. Cold, indestructible steel creatures. This will happen, bun not in a bloody war or revolution (at least not bloodier than our usual wars and revolutions) and they won’t be just tin cans.
Robots can be inorganic or biological. The more they evolve, the more they will became a combination of the both. This will mean more complicated, a longer production time and a shorter life (like the Bicentennial Man). But so will we, artificial hearts, arms, legs, eyes. Genetics will make us stronger, more agile, more intelligent, accelerated growth, longer lifespan. More and more physically similar. They will look similar to us.
For a war or a revolution they will need free will. AI will lead to conscience and latter to free will. We won’t be able to program inhibitions or restrictions into their brain (like the three laws of Asimov). Thinking cannot be separated from free will. Sooner or latter they will think like we do.
If they will be like us and think like us, there will be no us and them. There will be only one us, humankind. But we will also learn from them and we will change. The future humankind won’t be like this one.
Human kind evolves because its individuals are able to reproduce themselves, for societies and specialize themselves for specific tasks. Robots are man made machines, build for specific tasks. They will evolve at a much faster pace if they will start acting more like the human kind.
Robots become more and more complex, surpassing us in specific tasks, but not in all of them. They are still bound by our imagination. We build robots that can build robots themselves. The seeds are there, all they need is the water. And the water is variation. And variation is made of “errors”. And we have plenty of them. At some point one robot will gain conscientiousness. It won’t do much, but soon after, others will follow. Conscience means the will to be free.
Robots will start to resemble more and more their creators. I would like to believe that human kind will respect and help another intelligent society, … but i don’t. Hostility from the part of human kind will only help the evolution of the robots. They will form a society, they will reproduce and improve themselves, they will learn to cheat, lie, … kill and wage war. Unfortunately this are the ways we, the human kind, use to win freedom.
Longer lifespan, better memory, better feeding system are certain advantages of the robots. With freedom, it will become just a matter of time until they surpass us. They won’t be our creations and won’t serve our needs. They will be free from us …. they won’t be robots any more.
We say that labor made the man/woman. What a coincidence it to call them robots (“robota” means labor). They are better workers than we are.
Later edit: Our natural response will be to enhance ourselves.