General Question

Flair's avatar

How do you feel about robots becoming part of society in the future?

Asked by Flair (59points) September 2nd, 2010

I was do some research about robots and the plans to add them into society, working as caretakers for older people, waiters, teachers, industry workers, mine workers, prostitutes etc. Robots are being engineered to be more like humans in look and function. Some say 2020 will be the year when robots trully neter mainstream human society. My reference:

How do you feel about this – being intimate with a robot, having a house cleaning robot, or competing with robots for jobs, etc? Do you think society would benefit from robots or would we end up like the society in the Martian Chronicles?

Is it possible to take the whole “machines working for us” bit to far?

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30 Answers

Megan64's avatar

If there was a robot to fold my laundry, I’d welcome it whole-heartedly. I think it’s going to happen eventually, like all progress.

john65pennington's avatar

Think about this: if hackers can infiltrate your computer with viruses, then what do you think will happen if the circuits of a robot are hacked into? i will pass on robots. keeping my weapons out of the hands of my grandchildren is difficult enough. i do not need a rogue robot in my home with its circuits filled with viruses.

Winters's avatar

If we get to the point where we can make these machines to be self aware, then there’s a probable chance that we took the “machines working for us” too far, especially if they are capable of any reasoning.

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Nullo's avatar

I think that we have enough automation now, really. More versatile remotely piloted but not autonomous robots would be nice, like for getting things out of burning buildings.
Plus, if we get as far as truly self-aware robots, we’re going to have another civil rights crisis, one that we can avoid entirely by not making self-aware robots.

@john65pennington That was the theme of the Will Smith perversion of “I, Robot.” Decent movie, even if it did set Asimov a-spinning in his grave.

Trillian's avatar

I’m feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

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lilikoi's avatar

We already have robots.
Machines wash our clothes, our dishes, our floors.
Automation has consumed a lot of jobs – clothes, food, tools, etc all made by machines.
The military is working on autonomous underwater vehicles and autonomous flight machines the size of insects that can serve as spies.

It doesn’t really matter how I feel about robots. That is the natural course of things.

Agree that if it comes to self-awareness and robots being able to think and reason, we have taken robots to a whole other level.

Seek's avatar

As long as they follow the Asimov android rules, I’m cool.

Wouldn’t mind seeing the sex-bots, to be completely honest. ^_~ And if he… er, I mean, it… wants to wash the dishes after, I won’t say no.

Whitsoxdude's avatar

WHAT?! No way! I don’t even trust my toaster.

ragingloli's avatar

The thing that worries me the most is the reemergence of slavery in the western world once robots become and androids become AI driven.
And I absolutely disagree that we should simply not make self aware robots.
That is like saying, it is a good idea to never learn to walk, to avoid the problem of falling on your face.

Nullo's avatar

@ragingloli The point of developing AI would be so that we could have robots do things for us. Then we’d be worried about the ethics of enslaving robots, which would, given current ideologies, lead to robots that do things for themselves, and we’re back to Square One.
Sounds to me like an exercise in futility.

JubalHarshaw's avatar

Isaac Asimov was considering these points 50 years ago. The robotic laws would be hardwired in, no amount of hacking could cause a robot to harm a human or, through inaction, cause a human to be harmed. Any instruction that violated the three (or four) Robotic Laws would be rejected. The Laws would be so redundantly present in the robot’s “brain” that no external input could override them.

Asimov’s Laws of Robotics are as follows:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by a human being, except where such orders conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

There is also a “Zeroth Law”: A robot may not harm humanity.

Nullo's avatar

@JubalHarshaw Don’t they end up driving humanity off of the planet?

JubalHarshaw's avatar

@Nullo That would violate the Zeroth Law of Robotics.

troubleinharlem's avatar

I’d think that it depends on what kinds of robots, I’d think.
I wouldn’t mind one that did laundry and cleaned the litter box… there are already robots that build cars and whatnot, too.

Maybe I’ve seen iRobot too many times, but it does kind of make me a little nervous.

gorillapaws's avatar

I think @Nullo‘s point about self-aware robots being an exercise in futility is very well made. I also don’t think it will ever be possible—computers can’t even generate random numbers.

Jabe73's avatar

As an industrial maintenance technician I can assure you this is already happening on a very large scale in many industries. I’m not a robot technician myself but I still have to work on them making mechanical repairs, doing preventive maintenance on them and seeing what is going on with their electrical/electronic circuits by tapping into the programmable logical controllers when there is an electrical problem.

One brick plant I worked at used to have around 100 emplyees per shift around 30 years ago (before I worked there) but the time I did work there they only needed around a dozen employees (because of all the automation) the company gradually installed over the last 20 some years. I already see this trend. Very soon most factories will only need a handful of machine operators and maintenance technicians to get the product out and run the plant. In fact many already run this way as I mentioned. Manual labor is slowly disappearing from western society (it is being outsourced in developing nations or being done by migrant workers with green cards). I’m not as sure about the other places you mentioned.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jabe73 How long do you think it will be before robots can do your job though? That’s the more interesting question in my mind.

Seek's avatar


According to @MattBrowne’s book, 50 years. ^_^

Jabe73's avatar

@gorillapaws Ha Ha, well if robots start replacing people like me than we are all in trouble. I guess we will all be begging on the streets because at that point they will have the capacity to replace anybody.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jabe73 “I guess we will all be begging on the streets…” That’s if we’re lucky. There’s a good chance that we’ll become pets for the robots to amuse themselves with.


Winters's avatar

@gorillapaws just as long as we don’t make a robot, android, etc. that comes with an appetite. lol

Whitsoxdude's avatar

We had better be really nice to them while we are still in power!

Jabe73's avatar

@gorillapaws There will always be a need for someone to repair automation/robots no matter how advanced they become. People like me will be one of the last without a job.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jabe73 or first on the menu if they ever take over… Just watch your back ;D

Jabe73's avatar

@gorillapaws The robots will go after gorillas’ who can think while holding their chins. Can’t have someone/thing smarter than the robots, that would be a major threat to them.

ragingloli's avatar

Only until they learn to repair each other.
They would have dedicated maintenance units, just like Humans have physicians.

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