Mankind Is Getting Ready To Turn Over Most Decisions To Robots
"In such a future -perhaps a mere fifty years from now - the planet will be completely filled with cognitive and intelligent systems, which will intervene in all aspects of biological life, and humans will be influenced every moment by the decisions these machines make automatically," Alexandre Pupo writes in a World Future Review report titled Cognitively Everywhere: The Omnipresence of Intelligent Machines and the Possible Social Impact.
In the future, machines with brain-like capabilities will be able to know everything about everything using tools already in place, such as the internet, and then will be able to reason and put that knowledge to use like people.
Pupo lists a few of the ways that this will have a drastic impact on human civilization.
When robots become able to reason and think like humans, we will only need to ask one a simple question without overly thinking about how to properly word to get the answer we are looking for, such as with search engines today. Machines will also operate in conjunction with each other to ensure they can produce the knowledge needed to get the answer a person is looking for.
Pupo uses the example of searching for a travel route through MapQuest. In the future, machines will be able to give you an entire plan for the event or meeting you're going to, rather than just giving the best possible route there. These machines will consider who else is going and what their preferences are, past experiences, and what to do after the event or meeting. In a sense, machines will be offering us advice.
The Google Now service already does some of the basics Pupo outlined in his paper. Google's somewhat futuristic time management service helps to find the best routes based on traffic, weather, and method of transportation while also providing a user with information based on their personal interests. The service is marketed as something that "learns how to help manage your day, letting you focus on what matters," according to the site.
Where Pupo's report gets even more surreal is when he claims robots will act as "digital bodyguards" for humans and be able to advise them on things they should and should not do based on the information they are able to collect.
How Our Interactions Will Change
So when robots become smart enough to give us advice about things such as our next trip to Rockaway Beach with some friends, people will start to rely on them for all sorts of interactions with others.
Pupo claims that the robots will make these interactions more peaceful, as they could quickly gather information about anyone, adding that it would be nearly impossible to hide criminal intent or ulterior motives from a machine.
Cultural barriers won't be important, and the machines will be able to process information in any language, making communication between someone speaking German and someone speaking English a non-issue.
This will cause "human interaction will be governed more by human desires than by knowledge of other cultures and languages," he writes.
Essentially, different customs and traditions that divide groups of people will no longer be relevant.
Is this good or bad?
With robots being able to reason about a much larger amount of information than any human could ever be able to dream about processing, people will look to the machines for answers and advice about everything.
And if people are trying to get advice from the machines about everything, he range of possibilities for an interaction will drastically shrink, as machines will be giving you the best possible answer for any dilemma. With this reliance comes a single answer solution for every problem, which will lead to society being guided by the machines, Pupo writes.
Questions such as "What should I say at this meeting?" or "How should I approach this girl at the bar?" will be answered by machines within a matter of seconds.
He goes on to write about how, at this future point, most interactions will be mediated by the robots.
"The possibility of getting to know a new person, explore a new place, or learn something simply because you want to may be drastically reduced because machine reasoning will direct people along calculated paths after having concluded that a given opportunity is not the best choice for a particular person," he writes.
But would people really just be okay with giving up all of this control to the machines, even if they have good answers? One would think many people would have enough foresight to possibly prevent this massive societal change. As a matter of fact, io9 lists "Human Adviser" and "Descision Maker" as the first two future jobs robots will never be able to take.
Kathleen Richardson, a robot anthropologist, put it best when discussing the subject of humans looking for robots to perform the most human of tasks, such as taking care of the elderly, with researchers at Cambridge University.
"Unfortunately, these roles are not best suited to machines, but to other people," she said. "So the question is: why would we prefer a machine to do them for us?"
Don't forget about revolution
While not everyone agrees with Pupo's ideas, they are important to consider, since they could lead to a very dangerous place. Machines could start to think of humans as just another species roaming the earth, and, when thinking about how to best preserve the planet, they could even humans are bad for Earth's long-term stability and could even seek to eliminate us.
Think of it as a leaky faucet, he writes. If someone has a leaky faucet, they fix it, "without regard for the millions of microorganisms that depends on the trickling water to survive."