Just how human-like can the machines we use on the road become before we’ll be willing to call a trucking company to change the drivers of our trucks? In a time when technology is advancing at lightning speed, can we trust the machines to do what humans cannot?
There are a number of questions that will be asked as a matter of course when the question of how to make machines like ourselves like us comes up. Is it possible for us to ask them back? In the meantime, we have to find out.
Is it possible for robots to learn to act like humans, such that they’ll learn to do our jobs better than we do? If it’s not possible, and as we look at this process in the future, would it make any difference? Is it possible to have a truck that drives on auto pilot all the time?
This seems to be the concern for many: Will machines that change are programmed to be more like us than we are like them? Will they be programmed to be able to change their habits to take on our qualities or characteristics? Would they make our world a better place? Perhaps someday robots will answer these questions for us, but we can’t answer them today.
Because the emotional implications here are much greater, let’s look at some of the more personal questions first. Will the machines change us or turn against us in ways we can’t even imagine?
Deeply personal questions like these, especially about how the human brain works, raise serious ethical issues. We can’t answer them today. That’s where future technology in medicine comes in.
Future questions like whether the machines could live forever are hard to answer, because nobody knows the answer yet. It may turn out that they’re subject to such biological decay as cancer or disease, or it may turn out that we can turn them off well before then.
Life span is a very big issue for humans, so we should pay attention if we hope to avoid a whole new set of problems. You can’t get around the fact that as we start to get machines to do all kinds of jobs, we’re going to need to figure out a way to keep human beings from doing too many of the same jobs that we’ve done for millions of years.
After that, how can we control the machine population? Now, in this country, we don’t control the robot population anyway, so we can’t make any promises. But we can do things to make it easier for people to live together peacefully and constructively.
We can, for example, help people who are actually alive to have a much higher quality of life by designing the physical, social and cultural environments in which they can thrive, and helping them to contribute the things they naturally have to give back to society. We can do this without making the robots become human or worse.
For example, there are lots of musicians and other artists who get paid very little for playing their instruments, so they keep a lot of it and live a very comfortable life. But with all the advances in technology we’ve made, we can give them many of the tools and systems they need to be successful, so they can actually be more successful and make more money.
In other words, we’re able to give them access to all the tools and other resources they need to be successful. We can do this because we’re in control of those tools and resources. We can have robots doing our jobs as well, and be in charge of them, and help to shape the way they perform those jobs in ways that are appropriate for human beings.