Robotics: Evolution, Fears and Reality
Modern robotics can be very fascinating and helpful to society, but for a lot of people, the thought of robots and humans living alongside each other is still new and frightening. But are these fears justified? Will robots take control of humanity as in the Terminator series, or will modern robotics help empower humans as Kinova envisions?
The French news site Polem!K asked this question. Below is a summary of what they found and a link to the full article.
In the medical field, robotics is becoming an essential tool for scientists and doctors to take giant steps in the treatment of certain diseases. Minimally invasive surgery has seen a lot of development and it will continue to do so in the future. Surgeons will soon be able to perform surgery without making any incisions. As Polem!K mentions, new artificial intelligence allows for much more accurate diagnostics. It can analyze thousands of databases, studies and statistics in record time to give a much more accurate diagnosis than a doctor could ever do alone.
For some people, robotics open the door to a philosophical doctrine called transhumanism. Perfectly healthy humans might have wrong intentions and use robotics to outperform people by replacing their own legs with super-powerful legs for instance. The ultimatum of this would be to replace aging organs with synthetic, and better “robot organs”. Even though transhumanism is, for the time being, science fiction, the moral issues and fears are real.
The philosophy of the CEO and co-founder of Kinova, Charles Deguire regarding this topic is: “We’ve always had the philosophy of robotics to empower humanity, to help humans overcome disabilities or to cure a disease... not to help a healthy person outdo his equals.”
Concerning the recurring fear of robots threatening to overrule humanity, the article quotes Brigitte Munier, author of the novel Robots. Le mythe du Golem et la peur des machines : « the Western fear of intelligent machines (…) hides an old and growing anxiety, that humans will be no longer necessary in the modern world ». The author also mentions that mankind has experienced this irrational fear before. In the 19th century, on the dawn of an industrial revolution, Mary Shelley wrote the Frankenstein story which expressed in some ways the 19th century version of our modern fears of technology.
A Competitive Economy
Robotics can stimulate positive change in the modern world economy. Countries that put more emphasis on innovation and new technologies, such as robotics, “will see their global competitiveness improve,”. This is according to an economic report cited by the Polem!K. The site also gives the example of the British Sunderland Nissan company whose automated system is at the cutting edge of technology. Because of this, Nissan is one of the most productive car manufacturers in Europe.