IN DEFENSE OF ROBOT DOMINATION
The creation of artificial intelligence, or “A.I.”, is one of the crowning achievements of human ingenuity. It is also one of the greatest fears of our society that in the future, machines endowed with this “A.I.” will overpower us with their superior abilities and lead to the extinction of mankind. Not only are these fears irrational, they have the ability to suppress the immense benefits that intelligent machines could bring. The human race should welcome the spread of intelligent robots and their eventual domination of our world.
A common fear among those apprehensive of the oncoming of intelligent robots is that these robots will “turn” on us, their creators. In both the Terminator series and The Matrix, the future is plagued by a battle between the human race and intelligent robots that have “decided” that their makers are of dubious use and therefore should be wiped out. This fear most likely stems from a fear common in the human race of those things or people which we subjugate; this is shown is the “Simpsons” episode in which a society of dolphins, led by their queen recently escaped from a water park, rise up after years of oppression and conquer the humans. We use machines every day, exploiting them when they function with little concern for their needs and expressing hostility when they fail to achieve our expectations; how could they not feel resentment towards their malevolent human captors?!? It follows then that these machines, currently powerless to act on their resentment, when granted the upper hand would carry out supreme vengeance with the passion of the oppressed! There are several hidden flaws with this line of reasoning.
The main misunderstanding held by people fearing robot vengeance is that in creating intelligent machines, we are granting these machines an “enlightenment” similar to our own consciousness and therefore our ability for thought, emotion, and self-improvement. In actuality, machines only contain those abilities that their human creators have granted them. Let us examine the common toaster: although endowed with the logic to determine the readiness of toast, it could not in its current state without human intervention peel a banana, modify itself so that it could peel a banana, nor produce toaster offspring with the ability to peel a banana. In the way that the toaster cannot in its current form peel a banana, intelligent robots could neither feel resentment nor organize in rebellion unless specifically granted these abilities by their human creators. In the way that the toaster can neither modify itself nor produce more able offspring, intelligent robots would be unable to accomplish either of these feats without being specifically endowed with the ability to accomplish them. The abilities of all machines, whether possessing “intelligence” or not, are either directly or indirectly built-in by their human creators.
One of the issues people take with the above point is that somehow the creators of intelligent robots might unintentionally endow the robots with undesirable abilities or that the robots might somehow gain these abilities through some sort of freak incident. The former argument is usually supported by our inability to determine the outcome of robots with the ability to reproduce. The problem with this argument is that the construction of robots that can reproduce is an extremely difficult task that we cannot currently carry out and may never be able to carry out. Also, robot production would prove much cheaper and less error-prone when carried out in the familiar factory setting. The second argument, that robots might gain some sort of abilities through unforeseen circumstances, is equally ridiculous. This would be analogous to human mutation due to errors in the reproduction process or “radiation” producing people with superpowers such as the mutants in “X-men”, while in all actuality excessive mutation in humans produces deformity and disease. Intelligent robots will not have unintentionally augmented abilities.
The wide use of intelligent robots would produce great benefits to society. The use of machines to perform lower level jobs in areas such as manufacturing, labor, and farming, through greatly increasing productivity has produced a great amount of wealth in developed societies leading to higher wages, better working conditions, and an increase in “skilled” human labor with a higher level of education. The use of intelligent robots would greatly further this process. Repetitive, easily performed lower level jobs such as cashier, janitor, train operator, etc. that have so far been unable to be performed with current machines will be performed with robots with the “intelligence” to perform them. This will allow more people to perform higher level jobs, such as engineering more intelligent robots to perform more jobs, thus creating a beneficial spiral in which jobs filled by people become higher and higher level until eventually the robots reach and advance our abilities, at which point we will have acquired an unimaginable amount of wealth and all of our tasks will be performed by robots, and we can settle into our self-made utopia.
The coming era of intelligent robots should be welcomed. Fears that the robots will revolt and kill us are unfounded. Robot labor will allow our society a second renaissance, greater than the first. In short, the invention of “intelligent” robots should be looked at as a natural progression of man’s obsession with technology and a good thing.