by Nicholas West, Activist Post:
As we continue to chart the evolution of humanoid robots, humanity seems to be bypassing ethics over practicality. Robots already have advanced to a point that is leading to serious concern about the economic impact of humans being outsourced to robots for tasks as diverse as service, manufacturing, nursing, housework, yard maintenance and full-fledged agricultural duties. Some are predicting that robots of all types could fully replace humans by 2045. Meanwhile, humanoid robots filled with the latest artificial intelligence could lead to the outsourcing of future soldiers, leading to the literal possibility of robot wars. All of this is occurring as ethicists, governments and citizens scramble to make sense of exactly what type of future we should be looking forward to, and if any boundaries to this type of progress need to be made universal.
One thing is undeniable: the fundamentals of nature are being transformed by technology, which should be at least giving us pause to reflect on what type of relationship we really want to have with our technology.
As the article below from Adeline Chanseau, a PhD Researcher in Human Robot Interaction at the University of Hertfordshire, notes correctly, we have always sought more efficient ways of managing our lives – nearly all people would agree, for example, that a vacuum cleaner has been a wonderful addition to our home. A few less people might find value in having a smartphone, or any of the other “smart” devices which have arguably led to less efficiency by presenting completely new distractions. However, we are now embarking upon a new type of social interaction with robots that at least is beginning to mimic human-to-human interactions. This is especially true when it comes to robot teachers in classrooms, robotic caregivers, and other functions where traditionally we have relied on singular human traits such as sympathy and empathy to guide others in a manner in which we ourselves would wish to be treated through such moments. While we might learn not to think of our smartphone as a robotic companion, it’s not so easy to dismiss a tutor, butler, nurse, or co-worker as anything but something synthetic within our natural world.
Researchers are looking more closely at exactly how human these robot “helpers” should become. Some studies of shown that there is a “creepy” factor with ultra-humanoid robots that actually might hinder one’s willingness to engage with a robotic companion. Other studies clearly show in the area of, say, the bedroom, an increasing number of people are looking for something quite a bit more realistic.
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