A report published by International Federation of Robotics (IRF) says that there will be 2.6 million robots in the world by 2019, at least half of which will be installed in industries and the rest will take on the roles of caregivers and assistants.
The caregiving robots will tend to the elderly, work repetitive chores and entertain you when you are not in a mood. This is the stage 1 of Robotic evolution. So far so good.
There is a good probability that humans would share their house space with humanoid-robots a few years down the line. This is when we are the masters and the machines are our servants.
As technology advances, robots will undergo a drastic transformation of their own. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Moore’s law will empower the robots with unprecedented bandwidth. So much so that they will start making autonomous decisions without any human intervention whatsoever.
Consequently, the domestic robots will become hyper-efficient, too. They would no longer wait for your commands to complete a task, they would know what you need and when. If you ask me, the robotic evolution should stop somewhere before this stage.
See, humans, no matter how sharp or intelligent, would pale in intelligence to robots. After all, our biochemical circuitry has limits, but, there are no such barriers to electronic chips. Further, robots of the future will be connected to the cloud. They would have access to a swathe of information; they would download data on the fly.
So how long will this subservient nature last is the moot question? Do you think the sentient robots high on their own machine consciousness will take shit from humans? These questions bother many a scientist and entrepreneur.
Today the world is divided into two camps on the possibility of the machine evolution. One camp has luminaries like Mark Zuckerberg who won’t stop singing paeans about the AI advantages.
The other camp brims with distractors and cautious optimists. Elon Musk leads this pack. Though he goes overboard with his apocalyptic vision sometimes, I don’t think he’s entirely off the mark. The world needs a more regulated stance when it comes to dealing with robots.
Famous physicist and author, Max Tegmark writes in his bestselling book Life 3.0, “Unless the future AI is 100% failsafe and unhackable, you can’t feel safe.”
Coming back to the question if humans and robots can coexist. A curt and emphatic answer is yes as long as the machines don’t surpass human intelligence. In other words, AI evolution needs to be tamed before it reaches that breakneck point.
Many people who I spoke to say the world need not see it as a binary situation. Humans and robots are not going to fight wars to gain mastery of the planet earth. I am sorry to say they don’t get it.
The playing field will increasingly tilt in favour of machines until there is a consensual regulation of the AI advancement just like the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The world does not need ‘super-intelligent’ machines. They certainly won’t do what we want them to do. I am okay with those advanced robotic limbs though.