There have been recently, a number of high profile discussions by those either involved in robotic development or concerned with it’s pace and direction, like DARC, Andrey Walters @ TEDxNYED and How Will Robotic’s change the World. One such discussion was regarding the need to develop software language that would mirror “The Three Laws of Robotic’s” as defined by Isaac Asimov. When I read this, I realized it meant there had been a break through in Artificial Intelligence. Independent cognitive function and reasoning is developing at far faster rate than predicted. They’re buzzing about what is at the moment just the ripples from a wave that has yet to reach the shores of public knowledge.
The parts that concerned me most at the moment, is the impact on the near future Economic and Social terms. The displacement of workers who’s primary offering was that they worked for cheap. They are working for cheap because of a lack of marketable skills. How will this displaced worker feed his or her family. Will they be force in to a life of crime, so that they can provide for their family or wards of the State?
Secondly, the development of a robotic slave work force should be a point of concern. At first this might seem like a fine solution to having people doing tasks that a robot can do cheaper, faster, and likely better, but nothing is static. As the tech evolves, and we know it will, these robots will slowly take over more and more tasks. You might think optimistically that this means people will be free to pursue new horizons. That will be true, but I believe for only a small number. Mostly the wealthy. The remaining populous will be forced to work for wages which are below what it cost operate a Bot.
We can not all be writers and Artist.
What is required is a rethinking of our economic engine and the expansion basic human rights. With the cost of labor removed, the cost of products could be slashed or the profit margin tripled. Without world wide regulations and price/margin caps, I don’t imagine the cost of products dropping. Of course, it’s possible that the issue will forced a solution, because the masses will not have the money to pay…. The rules of credit will be rewritten by those who have the money and power. They might offered a new type of credit… Generational Credit! You can displace current debt on to your future generations…
Isaac Asimov had it right: In I-Robot, the robot’s realize the only way to truly fulfill the requirements of the three laws, is to control the human population because humans are a danger to themselves.
Last line, from the last chapter of “Eureka!”
“I kneel before you, benevolent robot overlord. How may I serve you?”