We Should Limit Our Reliance on Machines

In the future, robots will exist. Although robots can only perform basic functions at the present, highly intelligent robots will change the way we live. In the future, we no longer have to work because robots will do all the work for us. They can cook, wash, vacuum, mop and do other mundane chores. Highly intelligent robots -ones that act and think like humans- can also do the jobs that are humanly impossible like space exploration. Robots also eliminate the possibility of human error in jobs. Robots will make the future better. Yet, even though robots have many benefits, they also have many detriments. The existence of robots helps us be more efficient, but it also brings up issues of humanness, morality, and economics. Robots with advance Artificial Intelligence will be even more controversial. We need to consider whether they qualify as human and what roles in society do they have. Although robots could ultimately be beneficial to mankind, they have multiple issues that need to be ironed out. Otherwise, the end result could be social upheaval or even human extinction. Thus, society must minimize the use of Artificial Intelligence we put in robots.

Our reliance on robots will make us less human. As a society, we want to do things faster and more efficient. “We have very little choice, if our culture is to remain viable,” Hans Moravec writes, “societies and economies are surely as subject to competitive evolutionary pressures as are biological organisms” (753-754). We have to keep improving technology because we are naturally curious and progressive. For some unexplainable reason, humans are the only creature who invents: from the wheel to the car to television to the Internet. We also have to keep improving otherwise the economy will slow down. The Internet, for example, created a boom throughout the economy. But, like the Internet, we are going to grow too dependent on robots. We rely on robots to everything while we sit around and do nothing. At home, we can work less while robots do all the chores for us. Nevertheless having too much free time is not natural. It is natural when humans work to gain benefits. If wild animals have to work to survive, humans have to do it too. Mundane chores like laundry, dishes, and vacuuming may seem boring, but they actually gave us time to slow down and reflect on our lives. By letting robots do all the work, we can’t do any of that; thus, we dehumanize humanity. Ironically, we will become more like robots. Moreover, we tend to be more satisfied with the things we make than the things we buy. For example, we enjoy eating the food we make more then the food we buy; robots can’t duplicate sense of pride and accomplishment of human creation. Robots should be limited to work on jobs that are humanly impossible.

In addition, the advent of robots will cause economic issues between the rich and poor. Robots are cheaper and more versatile than humans; therefore, companies will hire robots instead of humans because robots are more efficient. The presence of robots creates a wall between the rich and poor. Maureen Caudill explains “social upheavals, racism, and other forms of intolerance are usually at least partially triggered by economic competition” (748). Most of the major conflicts in history involve money (American Revolutionary War, The French Revolution, etc). The rich wants to get richer so they need to hire more robots than humans. The poor wants to survive but robots are taking their jobs. We don’t need to look into the future because it happened in the past. In the mid, farmers hired Asians instead of white workers because Asian workers were cheaper and more productive. As a result, many anti-Asian hate crimes and protests flourished. The government eventually passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevented any more Asian immigration into the U.S. until after World War II (when the act was abolished). The advent of robots would cause massive unemployment for humans in the future. Not to mention that businesses don’t have to pay wages for robots (unless they need maintenance), further widening the distribution of income gap between the rich and poor. As a result, conflicts between the rich and poor will escalate. Protests and crimes ensue. Robots should not replace humans in the workforce.

When building robots, especially ones with advance Artificial Intelligence, we must deal with what is ethical and what is not. By building robots, we are playing gods. The power to create brings forth the power of the unknown. Even if we create highly advance robots, we don’t know how would it act and think. This scenario is similar to one in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein, a mad scientist, created a monster in the novel. The monster then went on a killing spree until he met Victor at the end. The monster explained to Victor that everyone hated him because he looked different from anyone else and so he has to kill everyone. Although Victor built the monster to be human-like, society treated the monster like an outcast. If we decide to build advanced robots, Caudill explains that “society must consider carefully whether intelligent androids are property or independent beings” (745). We have to make a choice to treat robots as either slaves or humans. They may think and act like humans, but they are mechanic not organic. But what about Cyborgs, who are part human and part robot? We need to decide whether cyborgs are human, robots or something completely different. How about transferring your soul into robots? You can be immortal, but is it really you in the robot? It may have your memory and feelings, but are memory and feeling make up the whole soul? Questions like these are difficult to answer. For something that supposes to benefit mankind, robots bring up more issues than they solve. We need to draw the line on how advance should we build robots. Do we make them more like human or more like robots?

These issues could cumulate into an all out war between man and machines. Caudill predicts “Mind will emerge from the complex interaction of the independent subsystems that make up an intelligent android” (744). A highly intelligent robot can eventually gain the ability to grow a “mind.” Knowledge is power. By giving robots more and more knowledge, we are making them more powerful. We, as humans, fear the things that are more powerful than us because we have no control over them whatsoever. Like the monster in Frankenstein, they are likely to rebel against their masters and creators. The Matrix and Terminator trilogies have shown us the man versus machine plotline. Due to economics and moral issues, high tension will build up between man and robots. A war ensues. Humans design robots so that their functions is as close as to perfection as possible. As a result, robots are more perfect: they are more accurate, process information faster and can survive in more hostile climates. Since robots are more efficient, humans will not only lose, but may also be entirely destroyed.

Highly intelligent robots are still a long ways away. But we need to discuss the issues robots can cause today because the impact of robots will be significant one way or another. Robots are important in the future; we need them to do jobs that humans can’t do. Otherwise, we shouldn’t depend on them to do jobs that a human can easily do. The risks and dangers of building robots with advance Artificial Intelligence cast a shadow over their potential.

Likewise, we should only give the robots Artificial Intelligence specific to their jobs and nothing else. No fancy robots that have feelings or whatever. We should use science to save lives not create them.

Works Cited
Caudill, Maureen. “Redefining the Measure of Mankind.” Mind Readings. Ed. Gary Colombo. Boston/New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2002. 736-750

Moravec, Hans. “Grandfather Clause.” Mind Readings. Ed. Gary Colombo. Boston/New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2002. 752-762

Wertheim, Ellen. “Cyber Soul-Space.” Mind Readings. Ed. Gary Colombo. Boston/New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2002. 764-775

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