You’re surrounded by robots and you probably don’t even know it. Most are not all that obvious and they won’t come up to you and speak like the Jetson’s Rosie, but they will interact with you.
Even if you’re unaware of them, they know you’re there.
Robots, robots everywhere
Robotics are becoming ubiquitous. Some version of robot or artificial intelligence (AI) is busy humming away in retail stores, autos, offices, your home…in the growing number of cyclopean AI security cameras staring at you.
Robots are monitoring patients in hospitals, assisting astronauts in space, washing and vacuuming floors, teaching schoolchildren, detonating suspicious packages, rescuing people from burning buildings and joining police forces.
Want a robot like your neighbor down the street probably has? Well, you can already buy robots that mow lawns, provide companionship to shut-ins, and wait tables. Workers are being replaced by robots at a faster clip every year. Bots are fighting with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, exploring other planets, providing banking services, taking over for postal workers and administering medications in hospitals.
Robots: friends or deadly enemies?
Robotic expert Hans Moravec from the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, says intelligent robots today are no smarter than the average insect. But, don’t feel too safe about that, after all army ants in South America destroy everything in their path when they go to war—forests, crops, buildings, people…
And in case you still feel complacent about our little mechanical friends consider this: robot technology is currently exploding at a rate 10 million times faster than the evolution of animals. To put that into perspective, if dinosaurs had evolved at that rate they probably wouldn’t have become extinct, humanity would never have existed, and intelligent dino’s may have already established colonies on the Moon and Mars.
According to Moravec we probably have some breathing space left before the robot wars start, maybe another 30 years or so.
Extrapolating on the advances in robotech during the upcoming years, Moravec asserts that robots must pass through four generations of development before they will surpass humans and challenge people for supremacy of the planet. (If this sounds like a lurid science fiction thriller, this guy’s serious.)
First robot technology must achieve the ability to serve as general purpose tools with software running at one million instructions per second (MIPS). Moravec explains that those robots will have the intelligence of reptiles—no doubt like some of the guys that women run into at singles bars.
Next—and Moravec sees this happening into 2020—robots will have acquired brains capable of processing 300,000 MIPS. He says that will give them the intelligence of smart mice.
10 million MIPS will be reached sometime after 2030. By then robots will be endowed by their creator (humankind) with monkey-like brains.
Finally, at the dawn of 2040 (and the sunset of the human race?) robots will equal human intelligence for a short period of time. It will only be a brief moment in their ongoing evolution because after becoming human-like they will quickly exceed us and Mankind will become obsolete and relegated—by the robot hordes—to the ash heaps of history.
Now, you’d think this vision would scare the hell out of anyone, but believe it or not, there are robotic researchers that relish the idea. They’re actually competing against each other to see who can reach there first.
Right now robot scientists are working around the clock to provide their creations with the ability to lie to humans, to hide, to trick…and to kill.
Some of the technologists working on creating their own pet versions of silicon driven Frankenstein monsters have very little use for the human race as a whole. One such individual is writer Frederik L. Schodt who was quoted as saying that people are little more than “walking filth factories, constantly spewing out hair, particles of skin, and moisture wherever they move, thus contaminating the manufacturing process.”
Yes of course, the “manufacturing process” cannot be slowed or interrupted by any such filthy, irrational or bothersome a creature as a human. Perish the thought!
Of course there’s no regulation or controlling authority over any of this. Most politicians are clueless—some have difficulty understanding how a computer functions or an automatic can-opener works let alone an advanced electric robotic brain without any imprinted morality or ethics.