Category Archives: Futurism

Ethical Associations With Robotics and Income

Building upon the concept of how religious or cultural principles impact the economic and social constructs relative to robotics, we must study how varying cultural ethics influence the divergence, and that of a capitalist society. Ultimately for my research project the distinction of religious and cultural ethics on robotics, the impact on the international economy, basic income and how such effects the current capitalist community will be the central focus.

Kitano (2015) argues that the cultural divergence of automation is relative to ethics. With ‘Rinri’ the term for ethics in Japanese associated with the harmonisation of society, with each individual forming a responsibility and accountability to that community. Moreover robots identify with their proprietor, and through such responsibility are just as accountable for the harmonisation of Japanese society. However the rapid development of Japan’s economy following World War II, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan stating the robotics industry as one of the most critical in the modern economy, has ultimately failed to provide the platform for conversation regarding human-robotic interaction.

Western ethics consists of varying subjectivities contrast to Japan’s, we can convey the Western dissonance to robotics beyond idolatry with that of the ‘protestant work ethic,’ in which discipline, prudence and effort are the effect of an individual’s confidence in Protestant commitment (Westby, D. 1997). Additionally ‘protestant work ethic’ has been correlated to that of ‘spirit of capitalism’ (Westby, D. 1997), thus through such beliefs development of robotic industries has become of major economic concern to some, challenging that of a capitalist society and application of the notion of universal income (Forrest, A. 2015).

Through the developing automation industry the concept of universal basic income has become an increasing debate. The ‘protestant work ethic,’ central to that of capitalism, may be the hurdle of such income generated from robotics. Wells (2014) argues that this is due to our social systems, such as education, have been constructed to complement the labor market relative to economic productivity. However such work ethic would be irrelevant with considerable absence of jobs.

Reference:

Forrest, A. (2015) What happens when robots take our jobs? The Big Issue, viewed 21.03.16 < http://www.bigissue.com/features/columnists/5970/what-happens-when-robots-take-our-jobs>

Kitano, N. (2015) Animism, Rinri, Modernization; the Base of Japanese Robotics, School of Social Sciences, Waseda University, viewed 21.03.15 <http://documents.mx/documents/kitano-animism-rinri-modernization-the-base-of-japanese-robots.html >

Wesby, D. (1997) Protestant Ethic, viewed 22.03.16<http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/protesta.htm>

Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/07/17/4048180.htm>  

Conscious Machines

How does consciousness exist? Is it able to be downloaded and digitally preserved? Can it be programmed into a non-biological machine?

We may come to a time where consciousness can be replicated and programmed into a non-biological machine, allowing that machine to experience the same type of inner and outer awareness as humans do. Consciousness, ‘characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought’, may no longer be an organically human trait. And if we can create a consciousness inside a non-biological machine then how about our own consciousness? Surely we will be able to download our brains and digitally preserve them. But will it still be us?

If machines can have their own consciousness, their own thoughts and feelings and sense of awareness, then surely as a moral human race we would care for and look after these machines. Or would we? An episode of Black Mirror entitled ‘White Christmas’ explores this very notion of mistreating feeling, thinking digital copies of humans. In this episode, human brains can be downloaded into tiny, robotic replicas and are forced to serve their human counterpart through acts of torture and manipulation. Is this justified considering the robotic replicas are not organic, conscious humans but instead a conscious machine?

And how about our relationships with conscious machines? In a separate episode of Black Mirror called ‘Be Right Back’ a company offers mourning people a service that allows them to reconnect with the deceased. The main character, Martha, is signed up for this service where she is eventually faced with a synthetic clone of her deceased partner, programmed using his online identity. If this clone was an exact replication of Martha’s partner does it matter if she interacts with it humanly? Are there implications if we develop deep, emotional connections with a machine when it acts, thinks and feels as humans do?

This is what I will be exploring.

http://www.livescience.com/52503-is-it-possible-to-transfer-your-mind-into-a-computer.html

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consciousness

Self-Driving Shenanigans

Technology is constantly evolving with an emphasis on making life more convenient and helping certain chores become less time-consuming. Self-driving cars are one of these technologies and it’s easy to see the ways in which you could benefit from them. You could be dropped off at work and the car could park itself, you would no longer need a designated driver on those late-night celebrations, there would be no need to get angry at someone who didn’t indicate and you could spend your time productively as you were chauffeured to your destination. Such simple changes that provide a whole new way of living, and yet there are still a few hurdles to cross before its initiation – on top of the fact that the technology has not been perfected.

google-self-driving-car-628

With both self-driving cars and humans on the roads, the legal issue of who is responsible for a crash comes into question – should the passenger or the software be blamed and who pays for the damages? Just recently, Google’s self-driving car was the cause of an accident for the first time – all previous incidents occurred when a driver took over its automated system (Kantrowitz, 2016). According to a report by Google, the car “believed the bus would stop or slow down” but the driver did neither of these actions (which is perfectly acceptable) and therefore it made contact with the vehicle. In the future, new laws will have to be implemented to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers as well as eliminating any grey areas; a similar thing is occurring now with drones due to its increased use and popularity. To bring this back to my project, I’ll take a look into the legislation that is currently in place and what other laws they may have to take into account when autonomous cars are more wide-spread.

Another aspect of self-driving cars that needs to be addressed is the potential for cyber-terrorism. Anyone who has seen I, Robot may have a well-founded reason to be afraid of autonomous technology, but what happens when an autonomous vehicle is hacked not by an artificial intelligence, but by a terrorist? Cars could be be forced off the road, driven into crowds of people or made to crash into a building. Hackers have a knack for adapting to new technologies and those developing these vehicles must be aware of these possibilities while they design their cars.

volvo-intellisafe-auto-pilot-1280x853

Google has used a series of car models for its road-testing including the Toyota Prius and Audi TT, but now their fleet mainly consists of prototypes and modified Lexus SUVs. However, Google is not the only company looking into the self-driving market; Volvo has planned to release 100 autonomous cars by 2017 that will be used by actual customers in Sweden (ONE News, 2016). As part of my research on self-driving cars, I will look at our car culture and compare it to how it may look in the future. If no one is driving the car, high-powered engines become unnecessary for the everyday trip and driving itself becomes a hobby rather than an expectation. So then will certain brands still grant passengers a level of status? Will a drivers licence no longer be a rite of passage? Will there be groups opposed to this autonomous driving? It will be interesting to see how our culture changes through time towards this technology and whether it is possible that one day driving will be limited to sports racing.

Reference List:
Kantrowitz, A. (2016), Watch This Sad Bus Driver Get Hit By A Driverless Car and Realize He Can Only Blame Technology, Buzzfeed. Accessed at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/watch-googles-self-driving-car-hit-a-bus#.hfGOxpQK3q
– ONE News (2016), ‘Eyes OFF the road’: Driverless car experiment to send a whole new message, TVNZ. Accessed at: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/eyes-off-road-driverless-car-experiment-send-whole-new-message

Robot vs. Man (?)

Shenae's Paige

robopocalypse

So I’ve had this book for a while, and I’ve been wanting to read it, but, I try to finish books before I start new books (it never works that way). So, I decided to pack it my bags for New Zealand over the summer (camper vanning allows a lot of down time for reading). Great book, and also great that I didn’t realise it would become so handy!

Chris Moore talked about technology, our affiliation with it and how reliant we are of it where it ironically malfunctions and acts, in a way, unreliable. This reminded of the book I read over the summer: Robopocalypse- Daniel H. Wilson

To summarise this book, it is about a scientist who created a sentient A.I. called “Archos R-14” (note the 14- there were 13 tests made prior that were destroyed when deemed unsuccessful). Archos is self-aware and highly intelligent (it knows EVERYTHING!)…

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living in a networked age

 

“Today’s world is full of distributed agencies and virtual potentials, rippling deconstructions and flash-point emergences, all eluding easy categorization or comprehension, at least by means of yesterday’s models. The future is not what it used to be: it is much more unpredictable, dangerous, sly and interesting.” Christopher Vitale, 2013. Networkologies: A Philosophy of Networks for a Hyperconnected Age — A Manifesto. Zero Books, UK.