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Author Topic: Robots
Charles in Charge
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Robots. Good or evil?

Will the spread of robots in manufacturing, health care, personal service, self-driving cars, defense, etc... be a net positive for the US and world? What are the downsides and how might we mitigate them?

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LetterRip
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Definitely good, but there will be a lot of short term pain (next 20-50 years) with rethinking economics and economies to deal with enormous excess labor.
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AI Wessex
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[grump]

Inevitable. I think there will be an economic crisis where people are superfluous for most jobs. I once opined that robots (originally meaning slave) will do everything but dig ditches, but that was obviously narrow thinking on my part. Machines will make everything and people (aka the Eloi) will be allocated scrip units to consume the goods. Actual people (aka protoplasmic bioelectronic units) will have few choices, and when your choices are restricted too far, you become the slave. Slaves to our slaves, anyone?

The challenge is to think what functions humans can do better than a machine. Consider that jobs requiring motor skills can be done with motorized devices and most thinking skills require relatively little judgment. I wonder if one day I'll start to miss the woefully fallible voice recognition droids on the other end of the phone that I regularly scream at as if they were "human-like" when they no longer make such mistakes or even need to hear what I have to say at all.

But don't hope you can mitigate or constrain them. Science fiction (aka science future) has already accounted for the impossibility of doing that. Whether it will be Skynet, the Matrix, genetic re-engineering or even Brave New World, fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night. Your life (aka persistent but possibly finite existence) and free will...?

[/grump].

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D.W.
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The trick is can we as a people learn to value each other outside of what "work" we do? Basing our economy, at least in name, upon labor provided will decrease if not vanish.

Those who now believe it is inherently wrong for the government to support "worthless" or "lazy" people will have fits during the transition.

The second trick is to not destroy ourselves with hedonism or reliance to the point we can't survive when something goes wrong because nobody has a clue how to do what the robots now do for us.

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AI Wessex
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You're suggesting that we "elevate" ourselves. People have been wishing for that for millennia, but this may indeed be the time to free ourselves from worldly constraints and do just that.....nah, what was I thinking?
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D.W.
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Well to be fair my "suggestion" would be forced a lot further out than the few decades LR is talking about. [Razz]
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D.W.
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P.S. Don't teach the robots how to create art. If they manage that we're really boned.
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AI Wessex
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No need, elephants have already managed that.
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LetterRip
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For robots, we are getting to the point where they will start massively replacing people for lots and lots of jobs. At 500k per robot, they only make sense for some fairly narrow range of tasks - at 20k

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429248/this-robot-could-transform-manufacturing/

- they are cheaper than minimum wage workers even with maintenance. And price will steadily drop and quality and capability will steadily improve.

Also I think strong AI is far far closer than the public or those working in the field realize.

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AI Wessex
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I am indeed [Wink]
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