Sunday, October 19, 2014

Will Robots rule the world?

The way human race is innovating on technology front, it's not very far that most of the work in the world will be done by machines or robots. If we look into history, progressively we have seen that the power has been shifted from rulers to masses. Democracy has done that shift by periodically making decisions about who is going to rule next. This is not the case as when the rulers were decided by birth. With advance in technical systems, it's quite possible that sometime in future, the rulers will be evaluated on every second basis. Like the 'Likes' and 'Dislikes' of social sites. So will it also happen that when robots will become the workers of the world, some day in future they will ask for their
rights. 

Why human race has gone through multiple revolutions to reach to the current state of democratic systems? Why robots will not go through the same state? Let's assume that the robots of future will be so much advanced that their brain function would be same as human brain function and many times powerful. If required, they will be able to do cognitive thinking. 

There are some fundamental difference between humans and machines. Humans get tired, they get bored and they have bouts of emotions. Robots do not suffer with these limitations. A human cannot work continuously and cannot obey someone generations after generations. Humans have notion of children. Even if the child does not want to do good to himself, parents go all the way to stake everything for the betterment of the life of child. Robots have no such concepts of family. Looking at these set of traits, it looks difficult that Robots would ever have interest in doing a revolt. Normally when you are not tired and not bored, you would not get negative emotions. The concept of emotion itself is relevant and driven by human body desires and limitations, which robots do not carry.  Robots would be smart dumb machines who will do the things they are assigned to, without any fuss hour after hour and day after day. In situation of emergencies, they would do enough cognitive thinking (which anyway would be an algorithm), to deal with the situation. Humans are safe because robots would not be emotionally weak like humans.

However there was one thing which can be the party spoiler. The notion of power. In living beings, we have seen that every human and animal craves for power. They want to be the king and queen of their territories. History has shown that people have gone to any extent to gain power. Why robots would not want to do that? Why not they will go ahead and would not want to rule the world?

 Isaac Asimov came up with three laws of robotics to deal with such a situation in one of his story.
  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 the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would 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
Later on he introduced the zeroth law
 A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

These laws looks quite self contained. It's pretty similar in the line of 

  1. Obey your boss
  2. If in confusion, follow rule 1.

 However everything works as long as one wants to work in the context of the framework. The rulers change not by following established set of laws but by working in the context of one's own framework of things. Why robots would not just go ahead and overthrow everything?

It seems quite strange that why robots would do that. Their are human who have tried to become like god, so why not robots. It could be a simple bug in the wiring of a robot. 

What will be the state of humans in such a society?

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