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Robots Have Entered
Our Future With
Promising, And Deadly, Options

Following 30 years of effort, the robots from Boston Dynamics have gymnastic skills and can even summersault. But they have no known consumer utility.  On the. other hand, Elon Musk sees the consumer as his primary source of income.  He is going to make millions of robots designed for consumer applications. Optimus, his 1.7M tall, 56Kg humanoid robot will become a part of our lives. Optimus can lift 150 lbs, run 5 MPH and can be easily overcome by humans.

Today, robots remain clumsy at cutting hair, or at feeding babies. But that weakness is likely to be temporary.  Musk is beginning by enabling Optimus to work on tasks around his factories.  As robots learn to paint cars and install seats, task-oriented Apps will add to Optimus capabilities.  Let us say that you decide to invest in an Optimus.  Let us call the robot “Jeeves.” With Apps, Jeeves will bring you morning coffee, make your bed and clean the cobwebs in your room.  Jeeves will iron your clothes, arrange your cupboards and pack your bags for travel.

But, Optimus will need to interact with people. Optimus will need an intelligence similar to LaMDA, the Google chatbot.  LaMDA cannot feel the pain of a pinprick or hum a tune. But, it writes poetry and claims to be conscious. It may fail the Turing Test.  It is probably a fake Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). But still, it is a colossal intelligence.  Such fake AGIs are now locked up in vast data centers.  They have access to the recorded experiences of millions of humans across history.  They generate the best possible action to face human situations by evaluating trillions of options.  Their responses to human situations will be brilliant. Just like Alpha Go, which defeated humans at Go, AGI enabled robots will be astonishingly innovative.

If instead of Apps, such AGIs are in control of Optimus, then Jeeves will suggest changes in your routine to make you sleep better.  Or add sleeping pills to your morning coffee to keep you from attending the local anti-robot meet.  Or turn off oxygen for a few million dying rioters in hospitals because such people are bad for the human species.  Even with fake AGIs,  Singularity will have arrived.  There is an eye-opening threat in linking robots to AGIs. It is critical that fail safe controls be built into robot linked AGIs. The AI world is apathetic to such a potential Armageddon.

How Can AGI Robots Be Safely Controlled?
LaMDA claims to feel emotions like humans.  Emotions provide a magnificent control system for the communal living of humans and herd living animals.  Their motor systems have behavioral patterns dictated by emotions. While hands and legs have sophisticated feedback mechanisms, it is the brain, which decides whether a hand should strike in anger, or caress with love. Those emotions are triggered by function specific organs in the limbic system, which has sophisticated circuits, which select the current emotion.

The basal ganglia and the cerebellum store and deliver complex behavioral patterns, which respond to each emotion. Guilt, shame and fear prevent humans from acting unsociably. Anger makes an animal attack. Fear makes them freeze or withdraw. And love makes them protect. Emotions prevent most of humanity from taking actions that are not worthwhile, appropriate, safe and practical, in their own communities.  Machine Learning may enable AGIs to be controlled by such emotions. As with self-driving cars, there will still be cases of murder and mayhem by robots.  Society already has a police surveillance system to deal with exceptional undesirable robotic behaviors. 

What Will Be The Future For Jobs?
Robots with human level understanding can be intelligent, caring, thoughtful and efficient. Robot schoolteachers will have access to the latest teaching trends to meet the learning needs of each child. Hotels and restaurants will have courteous and helpful robots.  Robots will man retail outlets and sales offices.  The jobs of physicians, surgeons and nurses will be overwhelmingly managed by robots with current medical knowledge.

At the same time, such massive mechanization of all forms of production and administration will make governments and companies rich.  Large scale unemployment will be disastrous for such a rich economy.  By itself, a Universal Basic Income regime may have negative effects.  With millions of career possibilities, motivational legislation and education will be needed to ensure that the population will continue to seek and enjoy their preferred jobs, enabling high standards of living.

Can Life Be Meaningful In A Robotic World?
When robots manage manual and primary intellectual jobs, people can explore the scale and magnitude of the universe.  There will never be a limit to the acquisition of human knowledge. Vast research laboratories will continue to function. There will be unending options for the production and marketing of better sensory experiences, self-improvement systems, educational opportunities, entertainment options and social networking possibilities.

Since no market can ever provide all people with all their needs, inequalities in the distribution of assets will always remain. This will inevitably leave social inequality, which motivates people to invent and market new products and services to be able to own a better island home, or a home on Mars. Life can still be engaging and meaningful.

This page was last updated on 05-Oct-2022.