General Question

paulc's avatar

Would you support a "robocracy"?

Asked by paulc (2919points) April 9th, 2008

Do you think that humans should build machines and systems to manage our societies? Humans are prone to corruption, lying, cheating and generally being total idiots. Would you support the implementation of something that could make decisions without bias and work solely in the best interests of the nation/people? Assume that no bias was built into the system and that its methods are universally agreed upon.

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23 Answers

trogdor_87's avatar

No, freedom is something that should not be tossed aside, even if the end result is a negative one due to ones freedom.

ccatron's avatar

ah, but machines and systems are corruptible. also, there are gray areas in just about everything, so how can a machine factor in everything when making a decision? that’d be a long if/then statement. so my answer is no.

peedub's avatar

Only If Max Headroom is in charge.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I don’t know but this song comes to mind shortly after reading your question.

cwilbur's avatar

No. I’ve seen just how well people make computer programs; even if I trusted people to create good rules and I thought the rules had unanimous consent, I wouldn’t trust the implementation.

nikipedia's avatar

Sure. I could definitely support that.

cwilbur's avatar

Here’s a thought for people who say “yes.”

Have you ever had to deal with a computer error? A billing error on your electric bill, or the computer at your college or high school screwing up your grades?

Now imagine that that screwup has the force of law behind it.

nikipedia's avatar

Have you ever had to deal with human error? My guess is that in terms of frequeny, human error > computer error.

The next question then is severity. Is severity of computer error > severity of human error? How would we quantify that?

jrpowell's avatar

Most human errors can be dealt with. If a computer was in charge you couldn’t really argue with it.

nikipedia's avatar

I’ve met plenty of people I couldn’t argue with either. If you need someone you can argue with, contact the person responsible for programming the computer.

cwilbur's avatar

@nikipedia: yes, I’ve dealt with human errors, and they’re significantly easier to fix.

Vincentt's avatar

I don’t think all decisions should be based on facts. Emotions are necessary. For example, when there is the problem of over-population the “best” solution would be to kill off all disabled as it’s “best” for the biggest part of our population.
Obviously, that’s undersirable.

@nikipedia – I’m glad I’m living in a democracy, in a country that it mostly led by people that can be argued with.

As for the programmer – he wouldn’t have the force of law to go and edit those robots. If a programmer that is in control of the robots gets upset or has some crazy thoughts, where would we be?

cwilbur's avatar

Good point – if the solution to a computer decision that you don’t like is to get the programmer to fix it, it’s not rule by computer anymore, but rule by programmer.

That, unlike rule by computer, is a concept I could get behind. Purely for altruistic reasons, you understand, nothing to do with my profession at all.

RedmannX5's avatar

As long as it didn’t go all iRobot on us I think it would be ok. No, I’m just kidding. I don’t think it’s possible because in order for the machines to be completely unbiased, the programmers of those machines would have to be completely unbiased. There is no such thing as an unbiased human being.

nikipedia's avatar

I don’t see how rule by computer could ever arise without the computers being programmed, unless you’re talking about some kind of Fantasy Land where elaborate systems can spring into being. (In that case, can we just have Garden of Eden Fantasy Land where we don’t need a government?)

I’m assuming the programmers are given some kind of guidance, either by popular vote or by some kind of still-existing human government….?

cwilbur's avatar

….and then we get into the problem that programmers deal with every day, which is that the default thinking mode for people is fuzzy and subjective, and it’s hard to get people who are used to thinking in fuzzy, subjective ways to think in the sort of rigorous objective ways that computers demand.

bluemukaki's avatar

I’m pretty sure i,Robot taught us all we need to know about offering our government systems to robots… But it doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, in some ways being biased is a good thing, because you can make decisions without needing to know everything, a robot making a decision would sit there for a while making sure everyone involved was happy with the solution and that isn’t practical because people always disagree. The best government is one with even numbers of biases.

nikipedia's avatar

cwilbur: Supposing we could get human beings to think the way computers demand, in a very concrete and objective way—do you think that would be better than, worse than, or equivalent to the fuzzy and subjective thinking that creates and enforces our laws now?

skeh0138's avatar

Honestly Skynet? This is the best you could think off? You really are deseprate man, this is just sad. Penetrating an iPhone messageboard behind a clever avatar?. How many times do we have to go back in time to melt you before you get the point?

cwilbur's avatar

nikipedia: I think it would offer no benefits and several drawbacks, because there’s a difference between things that are legal, things that are ethical, and things that are just. Until you can codify that in a formal system, the subjective system will be better.

Fallenangel's avatar

I see this turning into a movie….

question is, whos staring this time. We already had will smith, and Arrnaould (spelled as the common annuncination). I for one think this time should have Harrison Ford, or maybe Shawn Connery; ya know, another has been thats prolly close to death.

Zuma's avatar

Oh gawd, no. It would arrest human cultural evolution and freeze it in place in ways that would quickly become maladaptive.

Human societies are organic wholes—meta-organisms, if you will. They are swarms of memes, zeitgeists, historical and economic trends that ripple, cascade and tip thresholds that we haven’t even begun to define, as they compete for survival in the marketplace of ideas. The processes of collective deliberation, innovation and social control simply can’t be turned over to a machine without sacrificing the collective intelligence that human survival depends on. (See James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds. )

First, who could you possibly trust to program such a thing? The temptation to build in advantages for the programmer class of people at the expense of everyone else would be positively overwhelming. The temptation to favor one ideology over another would likewise be irresistable—and would inevitably force a consensus on society that it would be perceived as oppressive if, for no other reason, than because it was not organically evolved. Imagine some religious nut trying to program his ideas into the system. Imagine being a religious nut and thinking that the system stood between you and your salvation?

Second, what kind of fail-safes would it have? Any system of government has to have coercive powers. We have problems with concentrations of power even in a democratic society with built-in checks and balances. Imagine concentrating this power into one central authority, and then arming it with a tireless surveillance capability over the most minute aspect human life, and then turning this over to an algorithm?

How could you possibly build in sufficient error-correcting capabilities that would not be overwhelmed by the chaotic dynamics of population-based systems? No, trust me, it would be much more benign and more efficient to allow fit forms of government to evolve naturally.

dicka999's avatar

no not realy humans are much better and when they go wrong they can be told also if u spill coffee on a robot it will boom

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