Robots: Amazing Future of Mankind or Downfall

This is a lengthy article with links galore, a lot of reading most of which is in scientific jargon. I translated as much as possible for this article for the non-geeks. This was very informative and enjoyable for me and I hope for you too.

Will we as humans be able to interact with robots everyday and treat them as we treat other humans? We will like them, treat them as we do our friends and colleagues in the workplace? Sex anyone? Could you imagine that? Robots are coming to a life near you in the foreseeable future, we will encounter them on a daily basis and how we perceive them is an important goal at Willow Garage.

Dr. Leila Takayama of Willow Garage is a Research Scientist and Manager in the area of Human-Robot Interaction and one of twelve brilliant people in the field of human-robot interactions. She is attempting to teach robots manners and social skills. Research areas at Willow Garage include:
Grasping and manipulation: which is managing basic physical tasks.
Human interaction: which is what happens when robots interact with humans.
Motion planning: which is the robots ability to not plow through a crowd of humans when walking down the street or a crowded hallway. In other words, avoid objects.
Robot perception: which defines our basic structure of the world.
Task planning: basic planning to achieve its goals.
Dr. Hooman Samani is teaching robots to kiss,” His proposed research topic on Lovotics, which involves multidiscipinary research in artificial intelligence for human-robot affective relationships. This research comprises of several topics including robotics, engineering, computer science, interaction design, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, computational neuroscience, art and computational intelligence, for developing a truly interactive robot with pragmatic affection.”
Robots will eventually manage all of our human tasks as well as our lives. Housekeeper, butler, doorman, security, dogwalker, dental assistant, bartender, waitress, driver, repairman, computer tech, nanny, receptionist, even the sex worker. The list boggles the mind. This will impact our human economic lives and our place in the workforce on a major scale. Our jobs will be limited to certain areas where robots will be forbidden to work. So be ready with those graduate studies.
Robots will be cheaper to employ than we are, no FICA, no SSN, withholding or medical insurance. No labor costs, no sick call in’s or my kid is sick today. No lunch/coffee/smoke breaks and they probably won’t talk back to the boss either. I would venture a guess that the more expensive the robot, the more human-like they would appear. If you throw artificial intelligence into the mix, there isn’t a place they could not fit into in our world.
Would humans be prejudiced against them for being non-human? Would you talk to a robot as if they were your BFF? Would you say please and thank you? And if you didn’t treat them well, would you want to risk retaliation by them?
This is what these scientists are trying to achieve, a social-interactive robot that would hold their own place in our everyday life. They want them to appear as if they are human in every way. Decision making tools, conversational, maybe even advisory. When to talk, when to listen are important steps in making them more acceptable to us.
Human-Robot Interaction and the U.S. Military: A blog came to light on my research into this area, The Human Factor Advocate. This blog commented on P.W. Singer who wrote an article for the Wilson Quarterley, which is published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Human Advocate blog brings up serious questions for the future in the military complex that will need to be addressed. Will the human counterparts of these military robots become desensitized to war? Can the human military count on them in the trenches, will they be trusted? Will war become more easily waged?
P.W. Singer has serious concerns pertaining to the ethical application of robots deployed with humans during times of war. The statement at the top of the article says it all.
“A new way of war is on the horizon. Already, robots and drones are replacing human pilots and foot soldiers in some roles, and in the future they will take over many more. The benefits of removing human soldiers from harm’s way are obvious. But there’s a price to pay when a society can wage war by remote control”.
Human Robot Interaction With NASA: A Spaceman’s Best Friend? Trac Labsis working under a grant from NASA for the past ten years to develop software for unmanned robots in space as well as being applied to human side-by-side-robot functionality in the private sector and military. Mars Rover is a great example of this technology, the information that is analyzed and sent back to Earth of Mars’ atmosphere and of the planet itself is extremely valuable to future manned exploration of Mars. I am always checking out the NASA site for new info from Rover. 
Robot Technology Helping Humans in Daily Activities: Robosoft, a French company has developed a robot called Kompai which will be able to help the elderly and disabled. Kojiro is a humanoid robot under development at the University of Tokyo’s JSK Robotics Laboratory, Kojiro has a flexible spine to enable it to move and twist like a human body. A humanoid robot is a robot with its overall appearance based on that of the human body, allowing interaction with made-for-human tools or environments.
In general humanoid robots are built to resemble us, although some robots may have only part of the body, mostly from the waist up. Some humanoid robots may also have a face, eyes and mouth. Androids are humanoid robots built to aesthetically resemble a human. This aesthetic in humanoid robots will go a long way in our acceptance of them in our society and to work against bigotry. In general, man fears what it does not know or what is different from themselves. We are not as civilized as we make ourselves out to be.
How Robots Can Help Children With Autsim: University of Connecticut and Movia Robotics have developed a robot to help children with learning disabilities within the autism spectrum improve their skills. This is an excellent way to use robots, children would be fascinated with them and would hold the child’s attention much longer than a human teacher.
Bio-Hybrid Robots: There is an attempt to integrate human cells with electronic components. This has proven to be difficult as the electronics usually cause cell death, the cellular process uses signals that travel too slowly to interface with electrical signals, and exposure to electrical charges has negative effects on many cells, which can lead to cell death. 
Orr Yarkoni, Lynn Donlon, and Daniel Frankel from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Newcastle University in the UK, “The bio-electronic interface is notoriously difficult to manipulate,” Frankel told “Usually the electronics are modified to fit the biological system of interest with limited success. This is the first time that we have tried an alternative approach, to modify the biology (via genetic engineering) to fit the electronics.”
This sounds scary to me. I love science, however, my love of ethics, and my common sense, which some scientists in general might be lacking, or so I hear, tells me we might have a conflict concerning this application, and how these scientists plan to apply this technology in the future. My love of sci-fi movies reminds me of the movie Blade Runner. Bio-hybrids might open a whole new field in law enforcement.
DARPA Robotics Challenge: the call to develop a robot to help with disasters, for example Fukushima and the Deepwater Horizon. These robots may be deployed to save lives with search and rescue efforts and save first responders lives. This application could be deployed all over the world, including use for the World Health Organization concerning pandemics. 
Rise of the Robots: The Future of Artificial Intelligence: by 2050 computers will out think humans. Hans Moravec wrote an article for Scientific American, on the last page he wrote; “Properly educated, the resulting robots will become quite formidable. In fact, I am sure they will outperform us in any conceivable area of endeavor, intellectual or physical. Inevitably, such a development will lead to a fundamental restructuring of our society. Entire corporations will exist without any human employees or investors at all. Humans will play a pivotal role in formulating the intricate complex of laws that will govern corporate behavior. Ultimately, though, it is likely that our descendants will cease to work in the sense that we do now. They will probably occupy their days with a variety of social, recreational and artistic pursuits, not unlike today’s comfortable retirees or the wealthy leisure classes”.
What this article gives us is a possible peek into the future, and it doesn’t, at least to my mind, look to rosy. Maybe I watch far too many sci-fi movies, but in the end only humans can bring about their futures, good-bad-or ugly. We as a society tend to move slowly and in denial for the most part, we tend to refuse to stare reality in the face. We also prefer to take the easy way out and welcome any kind of progress to make our lives easier. These tendency’s could be our potential downfall if we do not keep up with laws, regulations and ethics concerning this new technology that will surely be a part of our every day lives-sooner than you think.
We also have a great capacity for empathy and with that we can employ these robots to help a great many people who would otherwise be unable to communicate, walk and perform simple daily tasks to enable them to lead independent lives. The use of artificial intelligence in laboratories, with their capacity to out think humans, may one day find cures for diseases and genetic disorders that have eluded us.
Artificial Consciousness or Self Awareness: some scientist believe that consciousness may be reached by machines,(computers) by NCC –neuralcorrelates of consciousness. A small set of neuronal events and mechanisms sufficient for a specific conscious. In other words, if the brain is working enough to have any given conscious experience, the question is, which of its parts is necessary to produce it. 
The Debate; Against: a skeptical view is belief that consciousness can only be achieved within a physical system, because what makes our consciousness depends on a physical body. This argument is based on the fact that there are many “physical asymmetries” between natural, organic and man-made computer systems, and it seems logical to think these differences would make sense to be able to reach a conscious state. Ya think! At least now you know where I stand.
For: David Chalmers proposal, in his manuscript, (it is a manuscript and you may download it) A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition, states that computers perform computations and the right kinds of computations are sufficient for the possession of a conscious mind. His thinking is that, “Computers perform computations. Computations can capture other systems’ abstract causal organization. Mental properties are nothing over and above abstract causal organization. Therefore, computers running the right kind of computations will instantiate mental properties”. He believes that “organizationally invariant;” i.e., nothing over and above abstract causal organization. Psychological properties, such as belief and perception may be found in computers as they are in the human mind, therefore, they are the same.
I personally beg to differ on this. Computers lack emotion, sure you can program a facsimile all you want, but, computers still would not understand the basis of the emotions that were programmed and why they are needed, which is what humanism is all about. And therein lies a serious problem. The what if’s for me are: The lack of empathy, guilt or remorse produces a sociopath, and if robots cannot relate to humans because they cannot ever understand what it is like to human, could a robot produce envy or become jealous because he is not nor will he ever be a human? Will they become basically depressed or become obsessed with gaining a “soul” or “self awareness”?
Ethics: I couldn’t have come up with a better way of saying that one day A.I’s will have civil rights if they are deemed to have a consciousness. So, this quote from the wiki page is this: “if it was certain that a particular machine was conscious, its rights would be an ethical issue that would need to be assessed (e.g. what rights it would have under law). For example, a conscious computer that was owned and used as a tool or central computer of a building or large machine is a particular ambiguity. Should laws be made for such a case, consciousness would also require a legal definition (for example a machine’s ability to experience pleasure or pain, known as sentience). Because artificial consciousness is still largely a theoretical subject, such ethics have not been discussed or developed to a great extent, though it has often been a theme in fiction.
What exactly constitutes “awareness”? 
There are many levels of consciousness, there are steps for a definitive description necessary for a machine to be considered “artificially conscious”.The list given by are as follows; The Brain is a State Machine, Inner Neuron Partitioning, Conscious and Unconscious States, Perceptual Learning and Memory, Prediction, The Awareness of Self, Representation of Meaning, Learning Utterances, Learning Language, Will, Instinct, and Emotion.
Testing for consciousness: The TuringTestand the most widely known, consists of the ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equal to, or indistinguishable from that of an actual human.
ConsScaletests the presence of distinct parts inspired by biological systems, or measure the cognitive development of artificial systems. Although numerous computer systems may display various signs of behavior compared with human consciousness, there is no possible way in which “third-person tests can have access to first-person” phenomenological features. Because of that, and because there is no practical or scientific proof of consciousness, a test for a presence of consciousness in artificial intelligence may well be impossible.
Hypothetical question: If a robot or A.I. were to think he has become “aware” and insists he is alive like humans and demands civil rights, respect, self ownership, and said A.I. could possibly be dangerous by alerting others or in collusion with other A.I.’s, would we as a society or government bow to this pressure?
Cognitive Architectures; CLARION: consists of simulating tasks in cognitive and social psychology in artificial intelligence.

Haikonen’s cognitive architecture: Pentti Haikonen considers classical rule-based computing inadequate for achieving AC: “the brain is definitely not a computer.

Finally someone with a logical brain, thank you P. Haikonen. 

Takeno’s self-awareness research: Junichi Takeno of Meiji University in Japan, has developed a robot capable of discerning the difference between himself in the mirror and another identical image. Would Takeno’s robot qualify under the above conditions? I think not. What do you think? 

The inevitable is fast approaching, I wrote this article to better inform our readers, to get everyone thinking, and to create debate on this controversial subject. We are alive at a time that has seen more technological growth than at any other era in history. I have been lucky enough to witness most of this wondrous growth. My grown children look at me with huge eyes when I describe to them what I have seen since my childhood, things that they take for granted everyday. 
They cannot fathom what life was like before all of this tech was created. I tell them, “life was much simpler, we amused ourselves using our own creativity, there wasn’t a need for instant-self gratification, manners and etiquette were the order of the day, families were more in touch with each other and more selflessness occurred. We had to work harder using more manual labor, but we were in better shape because of it. It was a much less stressful time and much more rewarding for the hard work that was accomplished”. I now issue a challenge to all comers. Live without any kind of modern conveniences and tech for one week. That includes going without the microwave, smart phones, computers, gaming, blow dryers and the like. Totally “rough it”. It will be an eye-opening experience, trust me.

One thought on “Robots: Amazing Future of Mankind or Downfall

  1. “Live without any kind of modern conveniences and tech for one week. That includes going without the microwave, smart phones, computers, gaming, blow dryers and the like. Totally “rough it”. It will be an eye-opening experience, trust me.”

    I missed nothing but the bathroom and computer. 🙂

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