When it comes to artificial intelligence, there are many people who believe that the introduction of artificial intelligence and robots could lead to a dystopian world similar to that portrayed in “Terminator Salvation” (p.s. Terminator Salvation is a terrible film), where robots have enslaved humanity. Whilst not entirely implausible, the threat of unemployment is a much greater moral concern surrounding unemployment, with the World Economic Forum suggesting that as many as 5 million jobs, from 15 developed and emerging economies could be lost by 2020 (Brinded, 2016). In fact, many people are already starting to lose their jobs to machines with self-serve checkouts being a major example of the way machines have been able to do a job, previously undertaken by human employees, but with greater efficiency and lower cost. However, I am more focused on investigating the threat posed by human-like robots, rather than machines in general. Why? Because that’s what society imagines when you mention artificial intelligence. They imagine machines that replicate our human bodies.
In countries such as Japan, many more jobs are now being done by robots. In fact, there is a theme park in Nagasaki, Japan that is about open a “robot kingdom” section where over 200 robots will work as bartenders, chefs, luggage carriers and more.(Niinuma, 2016). At the 2016 Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, many of the guests confirmed that robots are slowly becoming employed by various companies, at the expense of us humans (Japan Today, 2016). The idea of robots or sentient beings in relation to the workforce, leads to a greater moral question: Could humans and robots co-exist peacefully?
In his book ‘Digital Soul: Intelligent Machines and Human Values ‘, Thomas M. Georges hypothesizes how the introduction of sentient beings in society might be received by humans. Georges states that “learning to live with superintelligent machines will require us to rethink our concept of ourselves and our place in the scheme of things” (Georges 2003, pg. 181). This statement raises many philosophical questions, which I will explore in my next blog post alongside an in-depth look at the 2015 film ‘Ex-Machina’. Georges’ statement does, however, imply that unsurprisingly living with robots would cause some conflict and would not be a smooth transition for humans. Having said that, many will say that we are already living amongst various forms of “weak” AI such as Siri or Cotana, smart home devices and the somewhat annoying purchase prediction. However, these are forms of “weak” AI and we are still a long way away from a society where humans co-exist with sentient beings. All we can do, for now, is worry and imagine.
Brinded, L 2016, “WEF: Robots, automation and AI will replace 5 million human jobs by 2020”, Business Insider Australia, viewed 4th May 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com.au/wef-davos-report-on-robots-replacing-human-jobs-2016-1?r=UK&IR=T
Georges, T. M. 2003, Digital soul: intelligent machines and human values. Boulder, CO: Westview Press
N/A 2016, “Rich and powerful warn robots are coming for your jobs.”, Japan Today Viewed May 5, 2016, http://www.japantoday.com/category/technology/view/rich-and-powerful-warn-robots-are-coming-for-your-jobs
Niinuma, O 2016, “Theme park’s ‘robot kingdom’ seeks to upend Japan’s service industry”, Nikkei Asian Review, viewed May 5 2016, http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Theme-park-s-robot-kingdom-seeks-to-upend-Japan-s-service-industry?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link