One of Japan’s largest mobile tech companies, Softbank, is set to unleash a human interaction AI (artificial intelligence) robot upon the world in September 2015. With a price tag right around $2000. What is an interactive AI robot? “Social robots interact with humans by mimicking their actions and roles in society. Pepper is no different; however, it is gifted with the ability to read and understand the emotional state of the person it is speaking to.” (VR-zone.com)
At first, this sounds like an exciting development, until you take into consideration Stephen Hawking’s warning about AI. He mentioned, specifically “the Singularity, which scientists such as Ray Kurzweil predict will be upon us by approximately 2045, at which point artificial intelligence will vastly eclipse human intelligence, with AI becoming advanced enough to improve themselves and hasten their own evolution into beings that we have no control over.” (Giantfreakingrobot.com)
Before you know it, the movie i-Robot could be playing out in your very living room. So what makes AI robots so frightening?
1. Research. Given their cloud based brain power, they could quickly surpass human researchers. They would be able to find cures for diseases that have escaped humans in what would almost seem like an instant. It may seem like a miracle, but that sort of power in the wrong hands would make even the evilest of James Bond’s arch enemies look like underachieving gang members. Not to mention that sharing information via the cloud would mean that what one robot learns, all robots could easily learn. A very Borg-like mentality.
2. Becoming self-aware. As a race, we can’t even agree how to treat others. So many of us are biased against people of colors that are different from their own. There are wars raging right now because of religious differences. Then there’s the whole debate of sexual preference. Throw self-aware robots into the mix demanding equal rights, religious freedom and the right to marry whomever or whatever it is that robots want to marry and before you know it, they’re building a space craft to escape this backwards thinking planet. Or worse, they could decide that we’re irrelevant and wipe us off the face of the planet.
3. Weapons. It wouldn’t take a leap of logic to figure out that if AI robots are able to learn exponentially, they would quickly be able to develop weapons that human developers could never match, let alone understand. They would become the dominant species and we’d, very likely, become their slaves. Think Planet of the Apes only with robots.
4. World leaders. The world is full of politicians. And a vast majority of those politicians are in the game solely for their own advancement. Robots would probably see that as a flawed system and strategically out maneuver any human leadership, usurping world governments and placing robots in the offices of power. The outcome could either result in world peace or in a war of humans v. robots. Knowing mankind, I’d bet on war. Not that it would be a very long battle as the robots would have already developed human annihilating weaponry a la SkyNet.
Far too many scientists working on AI and robots are too wrapped up in the ‘can I?’ rather than the ‘should I?’ Hawking makes a very valid argument that scientists are leaving the door open for artificial intelligence to take over; “they are dangerously optimistic about the outcomes of their work and don’t fully engage the negative consequences, which then means that they’re not preparing for them.” (Giantfreakingrobot.com)
Perhaps a little caution by way of laws or regulations would be the safest and more prudent way to proceed. Who are we kidding? Politicians can’t even agree on the basics like freedom of speech for indigenous life forms.
Terrye Toombs states that her major accomplishments in life include getting out of bed and remembering to rinse the conditioner out of her hair. She is currently married to a male blow up doll. Terrye is the mom to a very active, non-verbal son facing the challenges of living on the Autism Spectrum.
She has a love/hate relationship with writing and when the desire hits, she can be found at asshatrants.blogspot.com. She used to write at misplacedalaska.com but was cut off when she attempted to pay her internet host with Girl Scout Cookies. Someday, she hopes to be an accomplished something so she’ll have something to brag about. Until that day, she’ll continue to pound away on her keyboard under the nearest bridge.