How the Robot “Take-over” will Happen
SkyNet became a very popular concept with the advent of the Terminator series of movies but is that something we have to worry about? As any trained consultant would say, it depends. Intelligence can be simply defined as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. So it can be argued that robots will at some point match or exceed our own intelligence. What is not clear and highly improbable is that robots will ever truly be self aware or have imaginations unless of course some life force decides to inhabit a robot body and provide these missing abilities. Robots made of nothing but matter will not “conspire together” and plot the overthrow of Man. There is a very good book on how computers work by J Clark Scott, “But How Do It Know? - The Basic Principles of Computers for Everyone”, that builds up to this realization.
So we’re safe because nothing bad can happen with robots? Ah, that is a different question. The robot as a tool in the hands of some psychotic despot– either governmental or organizational – or a bureaucracy combined with an apathetic public could be a very real and terrifying danger. It just needs such a psychotic to gather around himself or herself a personal robot guard. Throughout history, psychopathic rulers have had their dedicated personal guard to keep them safe from the populous at large.
We have already seen Hitler with his SS and other examples of blind obedience. You can even see it in the government bureaucrat or at some (certainly not all) DMVs where it is like talking to a brick wall. In England, these people are called “jobsworths” because it’s “more than me job’s worth” not to follow orders. A robot or AI is the ultimate “jobsworth”, the ultimate brick wall, because it is dispassionate and has been put in a position of authority. How frustrated have you been with a financial institution’s or cable company’s voice response system where you just want to talk to a human because your issue does not fit one of the pre-programmed menu options. With some such systems, you simply cannot get through to a person no matter how hard you try.
Now imagine that it is not a “service” representative who is simply being unhelpful but a robot that has been given the mission of attacking. Have you ever tried to reason with a shark? Once a robot has been set on a course, there is no reasoning with it. It doesn’t have to physically attack. There are many ways a person’s life can be ruined without bodily harm. But the true cause is not the robot, the AI. It is somebody – an actual person – behind it. This can be as an act of commission or omission, in other words, due to a deliberate act exhibiting some antagonistic purpose or simple apathy – just letting it happen and not lifting a finger.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. So we must be continually on the alert, but we need to be alert to the true cause behind a possible robot uprising. Because the real responsibility lies with us. We cannot sit idly by, we need to take an active part and use AI as a valuable and capable servant but we cannot advocate it as having final say.
Author: Ivan Biddles - Chief Architect at AIXIA Global