• Question: Will robots take over the world

    Asked by annabates8261 on 11 Jan 2018.
    • Photo: Alyssa Alcorn

      Alyssa Alcorn answered on 11 Jan 2018:

      This issue has been written about EXTENSIVELY by people who know much more about it than me, so get thee to Google and start reading all the thinkpieces.
      The short answer to this question is: not for a very long time, if indeed it ever becomes possible. If you ever have the chance to directly interact with robots (industrial robots, social robots, pretty much any robots), you will see that while they can be very good at doing the specific things they are designed and programmed to do, they are limited overall. A robot designed to assemble parts of cars can’t suddenly escape the building on an immensely long extension cord and start ripping up buildings. It’s not programmed to do that, and while robots are definitionally re-programmable, it probably doesn’t have the right physical hardware to do that. Also, the thing about needing a power source. As far as I can tell, many robots that are meant for direct interaction with people…aren’t even actually that good or reliable at doing what their functions are *supposed* to be. See this article from Jan 8th: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42614281

      It’s much more likely that robots will take over the world in a more metaphorical sense, for example automation replacing human jobs and having knock-on, destabilizing effects on economics and society. I’m actually much more worried about less tangible technologies, like algorithms, and the potential impacts that those could have.

    • Photo: Wendy M. Grossman

      Wendy M. Grossman answered on 11 Jan 2018:

      Not if we don’t let them.


    • Photo: Freya Wilson

      Freya Wilson answered on 12 Jan 2018:

      I definitely agree with Alyssa. It’s more likely that ‘taking over the world’ will mean that lots of jobs that humans do currently will be done by robots, so competition for the remaining jobs may become higher and it will have a significant domino effect on poverty and economics around the world.

      Robots can only really do what they are programmed to do- we choose what they do. Sometimes they do unexpected things because we made a mistake when we programmed them. Or their programming can be modified by a hacker who could then get the robot to do something unexpected. If there’s going to be some form of robot uprising these are going to be the most likely causes!