LSS has been banging on about Artificial Intelligence recently- but what about its scary sibling: robotics? Fans of sci fi have explored an ambivalent relationship with robots since the 1950s. There have been benign ones like Robby in Forbidden Planet or R2D2 of Star Wars fame. And malevolent ones like the eponymous stars of the Terminator franchise. And always that nagging anxiety. “These things are cleverer than us. When could they take over?”
Advances in the field continue apace. Writing in the Mail, Shivali Best uncovers the latest offering from the Xiaomi Corporation of China. It’s called Cyber One, it’s 1.75m tall, it walks like a human and it’s fitted with an on board AI system. . All the more impressive when you think it has beaten Tesla into the market place by a month. It’s quite clear that the great powers and their corporations will compete to offer ever more adapted, multifunctioning robots which will perform ever more complicated tasks in the years ahead. Watch this space for offerings from Russia, the EU, and India.
None of the above seem disposed to pay any heed to Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, which were adduced as an attempt to brake the terrifying potential of this new technology. So are we doomed to hide in the ruins, hunted like rats by super-powerful Terminator-style cyborgs? Possible, but unlikely. However there seems another danger. Currently robots are restricted to roles like factory production, cutting lawns and walk-ons at trade shows. But their range of functions is growing. Soon they may be washing up, ironing and cleaning the house. Then doing the shopping, banking and minding the kids. Their sporting abilities will exceed those of any human competitor, and no doubt they’ll soon be playing the violin better too. What future for flesh-and blood humans in a world where there is absolutely nothing to do?
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