Intelligent robots threaten millions of jobs

February 14, 2016 by Jean-Louis Santini
Robots at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US Warren Stamping Plant are seen in Michigan
Robots at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US Warren Stamping Plant are seen in Michigan

Advances in artificial intelligence will soon lead to robots that are capable of nearly everything humans do, threatening tens of millions of jobs in the coming 30 years, experts warned Saturday.

"We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task," said Moshe Vardi, director of the Institute for Information Technology at Rice University in Texas.

"I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?" he asked at a panel discussion on artificial intelligence at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Vardi said there will always be some need for human work in the future, but robot replacements could drastically change the landscape, with no profession safe, and men and women equally affected.

"Can the global economy adapt to greater than 50 percent unemployment?" he asked.

Transform manufacturing

Automation and robotization have already revolutionized the industrial sector over the last 40 years, raising productivity but cutting down on employment.

Job creation in manufacturing reached its peak in the United States in 1980 and has been on the decline ever since, accompanied by stagnating wages in the middle class, said Vardi.

Automation and robotization have revolutionized the industrial sector over the last 40 years, raising productivity but cutting d
Automation and robotization have revolutionized the industrial sector over the last 40 years, raising productivity but cutting down on employment

Today there are more than 200,000 industrial robots in the country and their number continues to rise.

Today, research is focused on the reasoning abilities of machines, and progress in this realm over the past 20 years has been spectacular, said Vardi.

"And there is every reason to believe the progress in the next 25 years will be equally dramatic," he said.

By his calculation, 10 percent of jobs related to driving in the United States could disappear due to the rise of driverless cars in the coming 25 years.

According to Bart Selman, professor of computer science at Cornell University, "in the next two or three years, semi-autonomous or autonomous systems will march into our society."

He listed self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous drones for surveillance and fully automatic trading systems, along with house robots and other kinds of "intelligence assistance" which make decisions on behalf of humans.

"We will be in sort of symbiosis with those machines and we will start to trust them and work with them," he predicted.

"This is the concern because we don't know the rate of growth of machine intelligence, how clever those machines will become."

The Pentagon has requested $19 billion for developing intelligent weapons systems
The Pentagon has requested $19 billion for developing intelligent weapons systems

Control?

Will the machines remain understandable for the humans? Will humans will be able to control them? Will they remain a benefit for humans, or pose harms?

These questions and more are being raised anew due to recent advances in robotic technology that allow machines to see and hear, almost like people.

Selman said investment in artificial intelligence in the United States was by far the highest ever in 2015, since the birth of the industry some 50 years ago.

Business giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Tesla, run by billionaire Elon Musk, are at the head of the pack.

Also, the Pentagon has requested 19 billion for developing intelligent weapons systems.

What is concerning about these new technologies is their ability to analyze data and execute complex tasks.

This raises concerns about whether humans might one day lose control of the artificial intelligence they once built, said Selman.

It's a concern that some of the world's great minds have raised too, including British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who warned in a BBC interview in 2014 that the consequences could be dire.

"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he said.

"Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded," he added.

"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."

These questions have led scientists to call for the establishment of an ethical framework for the development of artificial intelligence, as well as safeguards for security in the years to come.

Last year Musk—the owner of SpaceX—donated 10 million to resolve such concerns, deeming artificial intelligence potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

For Wendel Wallach, an ethicist at Yale University, such dangers require a global response.

He also called for a presidential order declaring that lethal autonomous weapons systems are in violation of international humanitarian law.

"The basic idea is that there is a need for concerted action to keep technology a good servant and not let it become a dangerous master."

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dogbert
3 / 5 (10) Feb 14, 2016
The problem with articles such as this is the use of the terms "intelligence" and "artificial intelligence" as if machine intelligence exists. It does not. What we do have is expert systems and clever programming which is, admittedly, capable of doing certain tasks very well, but is not intelligent.

We have industrial robots capable of performing the mind numbing repetitive tasks of sorting, assembly, etc. quite well. Repetitive tasks are well suited to robotic conversion.

We have auto pilots for planes and more recently Google cars which can navigate under simple conditions. But these systems, however intelligent they can be made to appear, are not intelligent and cannot perform tasks requiring intelligence.

Is it possible to create intelligent machines? Perhaps it is and perhaps not. We are not even close to finding out.
promile
Feb 14, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
katesisco
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
Agree with promile, and along side the intensifying, as always demonstrated, is the leakage of negatives into the populace with a greater degree and spread than before. So we'll have nano tech in spite of the fact that nanos are deadly but the claim will be made that the negative has been mitigated to a 'safe level' , same as that that occurred with the 'background' radiation levels.
daqddyo
4 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2016
The loss of labor due to robot activity can be partially offset by instituting a "robot" tax paid by the corporations that use them. The amount would be based on the equivalent human salary cost for the equivalent job that could have been done by human workers.
The increased revenue to the taxing government(s) would help pay for education and training of displaced workers for new jobs.
In any case, in our world, the crunch time is coming overpopulation and not enough jobs to go around, e.g. in the middle east where too many people seem to only know how to shoot guns and kill others.
EyeNStein
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 14, 2016
Using AI to augment what humans are capable of should be a good thing.
You only have to read some of the troll posts on this forum to know that some impartial intelligence assistance is needed.
Even Doctors are reaching the limits of what they can process in a hospital full of patients. (What your treatment you get, already depends to a dangerous degree on which doctor you ask and how otherwise busy he is.)
If every human was AI extended in capability to the extent that a military pilot can be: Who knows what we could achieve. (Its unfortunate that military AI doesn't yet stop civilian casualties)
humy
4.3 / 5 (9) Feb 14, 2016
The problem with articles such as this is the use of the terms "intelligence" and "artificial intelligence" as if machine intelligence exists. It does not. .....

Who cares if you say they are not 'intelligent'?
'intelligent'' or not, the issue of them taking jobs remains and you cannot define out the issue out of existence just by saying they are not ''intelligent''!
They are apparently 'intelligent'' to take our jobs -that is the only intelligence that counts here for this issue.

But I agree with EyeNStein that overall this should be a good thing.
promile
Feb 14, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Eikka
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 14, 2016
If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?


The work.

From the society's perspective, it's more expensive to employ the robot because the expense of the human worker doesn't vanish when he's displaced. Only his labor output vanishes, so you're now paying for both the human and the robot.

The trick in the question is that the robot displaces a person, which implies that there's a fixed amount of work that needs to be done. This means the robot can't recoup its own cost and the cost of the displaced worker by increase in productivity because there is no need for the additional output. You're simply getting the same work done and paying more for it.

If there is demand for additional output, then the robot never displaces the person, because there's room in the market for the output of both.
promile
Feb 14, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
lazyfair
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 14, 2016
Headline could read "Robots threaten to increase worker productivity and make lives easier for billions."
javjav
2 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2016
I think they are compatible with employment. Automation has grown constantly over the last century, while unemployment rates have been decreasing, worker relative salaries raising and people have better jobs than ever. Ultimately evolution will provide a balance, the only purpose of robots is to make products and services for human consumers, if people don't have jobs then they can't buy those products then robots population decrease. And governors will change rules because our economy needs consumers.
kochevnik
2.4 / 5 (9) Feb 14, 2016
People are brainwashed to forget the time they lived happily and self-sufficiently on their own land, until the aristocrats banned land inheritance and created the industrial revolution

Employment is only needed with currency(bank debt notes). Holders of money(land,gold) need not work above the level required for self-reliance. USA has no gold and land is deeded to European aristocrats(public land), so Americans are screwed and their only destiny is to die in war with new superpower Eurasia. USA president in charge of surreptitiously funding goon squads like ISIS to justify USA thievery
rderkis
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
Wow, Kochevnik your need to show your intelligence is only belittled by you apparent stupidity. :-)
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2016
Eikka
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2016
People are brainwashed to forget the time they lived happily and self-sufficiently on their own land, until the aristocrats banned land inheritance and created the industrial revolution


You have to go very very far back in time for that, because before the industrial revolution the land was owned by the aristocracy and the rest of the people were serfs working the land for the aristocrats. If the peasants started demanding to keep and sell their own produce, the aristocrats simply drove them away and replaced them with sheep.

There was a brief period in the middle ages after the plagues when the population crashed and there weren't enough people to produce food, so the aristocrats actually had to pay the peasants to stay and farm, but after that the population shot up again while the productivity of the land remained stagnant, which lead to widespread poverty. That's how the land-owning aristocracy could keep the peasants: if you weren't a serf you were a beggar.

zorro6204
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2016
How about we anticipate an era where robots make human work unnecessary and establish some rules? For example, every robot is assessed a toll charge that is shared among human workers it replaces. If you take a livelihood away from a human, create a cost for doing so, even the playing field against . . . the enemy?
marcush
2 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2016
This seems to me only good if the lower costs turn into lower prices that are affordable by the new unemployed.
msilberglitt
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
Ninety percent of agricultural jobs have disappeared over the past 100 years ... where's the 90% unemployment? Avoided by education for the jobs of the mid-twentieth century. Now those jobs give way to a new century of opportunity. The only element missing is education. How about CS in elementary school?
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (8) Feb 14, 2016
"I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?"

I find it funny that some would even think about defending the current state of wage-slavery instead of embracing this as a step towards freeing us from labor, scarcity and all-round inequality in society.

Just like renewables give us a chance to free us from external dependencies so do robots give us a chance to free us from work-related dependencies.

Humans didn't evolve to be 9-to-5 critters forever.
Eikka
3.8 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
For example, every robot is assessed a toll charge that is shared among human workers it replaces.


It's impossible to apply such charges because after a number of years the workers the robot replaced no longer exist. Then who are you going to pay?

This seems to me only good if the lower costs turn into lower prices that are affordable by the new unemployed.

The prices have to drop anyways because the unemployed have no money to pay.

A far bigger concern is that with robots, the owning class no longer needs the working class and can isolate itself completely, leaving the rest of the humanity entirely without work and without products to buy. If you can do the whole chain from raw materials to consumption, then nothing costs you anything in terms of money anymore. You're self-sufficient.

The owning class will sell consumables to the working class for whatever land and resources they still own, and then the working class will become superfluous.
Eikka
2.8 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2016
I find it funny that some would even think about defending the current state of wage-slavery instead of embracing this as a step towards freeing us from labor, scarcity and all-round inequality in society.


Scarcity is never really going to go away because laws of physics dictate we can't have unlimited resources, so there's always a need for a mechanism for limiting individual greed and stop people from just grabbing everything for themselves.

Having to work for your income is one such mechanism - you want more, you work more.

It's a mechanism that may be cruel, but it doesn't depend on some central dictatorship to decide how much each individual is allocated, and so it isn't politically fragile and prone to corruption in the same sense.

There's no point in paying everyone just to exist because it introduces the need for tyranny over who gets to exist.
Eikka
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
Just like renewables give us a chance to free us from external dependencies


Considering that renewables require a vast interoperating network of intercoordinated producers and consumers on the scale of continents to work, what do you mean by "external dependencies"? External to whom?

Consider for example the DESERTEC project idea. If someone in North Africa cuts the cable across Gibraltar that delivers solar energy from Sahara, the whole of Europe goes into rolling blackouts because the network loses a great deal of its power regulating capacity.

These kinds of practical concerns in the actual implementations of systems often trump high ideals, just like how realpolitik killed communism.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
Considering that renewables require a vast interoperating network of intercoordinated producers and consumers on the scale of continents to work, what do you mean by "external dependencies"?

Where do you get that they require this? You can go fully renewable for a single household without connecting to any grid at all (by slapping on solar cells and installing a storage medium). So there's definitely no "requirement" here.
it's just easier, for now, to do it this way in a first stage to get us weaned off oil, coal and nuclear as quickly as possible.

If someone in North Africa cuts the cable across Gibraltar

But it's not an issue of a higher bidder coming along and buying up the power (e.g. China buying all the oil from Saudi Arabia or gas from Russia). DESERTEC is a combined effort that benefits both sides.

And the most glaring of all dependencies is: fossil fuels are finite. So the bidding wars (and then real wars) are inveitable if we stay with that.
Eikka
4 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2016
The study of the forces that shape, maintain and alter the state is the basis of all political insight and leads to the understanding that the law of power governs the world of states just as the law of gravity governs the physical world. The older political science was fully aware of this truth but draw a wrong and detrimental conclusion - the right of the more powerful. The modern era has corrected this unethical fallacy, but while breaking with the alleged right of the more powerful one, the modern era was too much inclined to overlook the real might of the more powerful and the inevitability of its political influence.

- Ludwig von Rochau, 1853, Grundsätze der Realpolitik angewendet auf die staatlichen Zustände Deutschlands


I would simply like to add that power does not need to be understood as deliberate, but groups of people can also have power that they wield unconciously as a result of their collective behaviour.

Such powers have to be taken into account.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
Where do you get that they require this? You can go fully renewable for a single household without connecting to any grid at all (by slapping on solar cells and installing a storage medium).


Ah, but where do you get the solar panels and the storage medium? Not in theory, but in actuality. Wouldn't that be lithium from Bolivia and silicon cells from China? If so, wouldn't that be an external dependency? That's the question of what do you mean by external?

Where do you get that they require this?


From the published plans and calculations for the various projects. I can't remember exact papers. The more localized the system, the more it depends on energy storage on a scale that is not possible to build on local resources.

But it's not an issue of a higher bidder coming along and buying up the power


I don't think that was the question. The DESERTEC project basically represents neo-imperialism because it has asymmetric benefits.
Eikka
3.5 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2016
And the most glaring of all dependencies is: fossil fuels are finite. So the bidding wars (and then real wars) are inveitable if we stay with that.


That's true, but a bit off topic.

The question I'm interested in is disseminating your claim about how your analogy relates to the claim: "so do robots give us a chance to free us from work-related dependencies."

Of course they can free us from work, but what about the dependencies? What do you mean by that in concrete terms?

It's well to talk about these things in the abstract and make lofty generalizations, but what are the actual implications of living in a world where robots do the work and people just sit and consume without any requirement of personal effort and input. Does it for example demand the socialization of all resources and political control over the division, and if so then how is that accomplished in a reasonable and robust manner?
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2016
Ah, but where do you get the solar panels and the storage medium?

That's why I said it is CURRENTLY the best way to do it via a grid. Never fear: storage media will come. Then we can do away with the grid. Using a grid is a medium term fix (and not a bad one as most of it already exists).

Storage media can be anything from salt to hydrogen to water ice to sythetic fuels to...there are a gazillion methods that don't set up new dependencies. You're also forgetting that neither lithium and silicon set up a dependency at all because they can be recycled/reused. they aren't used up like fossil fuels.

he DESERTEC project basically represents neo-imperialism

Huh? Where are these countries short changed? What is taken away from them? Where is colonial control being exerted? you'll have to explain that one.
That seems like a completely crazy conspiracy theory.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
Of course they can free us from work, but what about the dependencies? What do you mean by that in concrete terms?

Simply this: When robots can do all the work (including maintaining themselves) then we can distribute the output based on need and not based on bidding...because no one will actually make 'more' than anyone else.

Of course this must be complemented by a high recycling rate. But in the end it's free stuff for everyone and we can just dump this entire "work" (and "economy") BS.

I have better things to do than 9-to-5 or worry about whether I'll be poor when I'm old.
Eikka
2.8 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2016
Never fear: storage media will come.


I will see when it does. Currently the scale of the issue and the technologies available are not scalable to the task.

Where are these countries short changed?


The whole point of the system is that the supply intermittency problem is greater in the north within Europe than it is closer to the equator in North Africa and Middle East. Europe needs them more than they need Europe in terms of stable energy supply.

Africa and Middle East would have tremendous economical leverage over Europe, which means they have a tremendous political lever as well, which means Europe has to apply some other incentive to keep the system symmetric - which in practice means some sort of economic and/or geopolitical abuse. Otherwise Europe would end up paying very dearly for the energy.

It's the exact same problem as with the oil resource wars going on in the middle east right now.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
then we can distribute the output based on need and not based on bidding...because no one will actually make 'more' than anyone else.


Alright, now we're getting to the meat of the issue.

How do you define and determine "need"? Who defines it and how?

Please remember that your choices affect things like population growth and movement of peoples and societies, and are limited by things like the carrying capacity of the global and local ecology. You're handling the same questions that were explored by the communists in the Soviet Union.

Marx tried to develop the labor value theory by pinning the value of productive output according to how much is needed to maintain the workers. He also ran into trouble trying to define what this "need" is and how to apply it to the millions of individual people.

The practical solutions to the question they came up with were rather hilarious, if we forget that they applied to real human beings.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
How do you define and determine "need"? Who defines it and how?

That's what we have elected governments for as long as there is scarcity in the amount of produced good..
But even that will fall by the wayside when any need can be met. And why wouldn't it? With recycling this means any injection of new material ups the available material in the system permanently..and the amount of stuff anyone can consume is limited (if by nothing else but by the time of day in which they can consume it)

You're handling the same questions that were explored by the communists in the Soviet Union.

Sure. But they were in a position of perpetual scarcity - which in itself leads to the biggest bastards (those who want "more" than others) to float to the top (just like in capitalism).

If you have no scarcity you have no clout - and no incentive for such people to get to the "top" of government. It would afford them no benefit.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
That's what we have elected governments for


Here's an interesting documentary on the subject

https://www.youtu...wyHNo7MI

By the late 1930s, Stalin faithful engineers like Leonid Brezhnev, Alexei Kosygin and Nikita Khrushchev grew in influence, due to Stalin eliminating many earlier Bolshevik engineers.
They aimed to use engineering in line with Stalin's policies to plan the entire country.

At Gosplan, the head institution of central planning, engineers predicted future rational needs. Vitalii Semyonovich Lelchuk, from the USSR Academy of Sciences, describes the level of detail as absurd: "Even the KGB was told the quota of arrests to be made and the prisons to be used. The demand for coffins, novels and movies was all planned."

The seemingly rational benchmarks began to have unexpected results.

Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
But even that will fall by the wayside when any need can be met. And why wouldn't it? With recycling this means any injection of new material ups the available material in the system permanently


That's assuming a 100% perfect system of recycling with no loss or degradiation of material. It's a system that depends on some unobtainium that we haven't even imagined yet, to be able to separate and reconstruct materials down on the atomic level without excessive energy costs.

In reality much, if not most, of recycling is downcycling.

If you have no scarcity you have no clout


Again, we're limited by the planet we're standing on. There is no such thing as post-scarcity.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 14, 2016
Stalin was trying to tell people what they need (and he wasn't open to being gainsaid as opposed to elected governments who can't just ignore their voters)

I'm proposing that people tell the government what they need.

That's assuming a 100% perfect system of recycling with no loss or degradiation of material.

Yet it is not too far fetched to imagine recycling at atomic level. It's not even impossible with today's technology (though still wildly impractical from an energy usage POV)

i am not saying all the things we need are in place and as efficient as need be, today. But the road to these is clear. There's no SciFi-tech involved.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
Stalin was trying to tell people what they need


That's a very simplified version of the story. He didn't personally oversee the process. Stalin was trying to have the engineers apply a rational scientific means to define what the needs of the people were, and what they should be relative to what they could reasonably supply.

Their problem was in their definition of what is rational, how do you reason it, and what is a need. You have the same issue at hand.

I'm proposing that people tell the government what they need.


Of course they need everything since they can just demand.
and the amount of stuff anyone can consume is limited (if by nothing else but by the time of day in which they can consume it)


You forget that the people have robots to do their bidding. You can very easily consume vast amounts of resources if for example you want to build a personal space rocket and visit the moon - all you need is a robot to make a robot to make a robot...
paris_arthur
4 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2016
They need a "SiFi" heading for articles like this. MFG workers didn't get replaced by robots in the US.. they got replaced by other human workers in other countries.

There are so few things machines can do in place of people that our society is closer to an 1900's then to the fantasy world portrayed in this article.

Dose anyone really think the Roomba is replacing cleaning staff anywhere... ever?
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2016
You can very easily consume vast amounts of resources if for example you want to build a personal space rocket and visit the moon

Sure. So put it to a vote that you get this and see how far it goes. there's bound to be a pool of resources for public/infrastructure needs.
Or just pool your resources with those of others to build it. No problem.

But there's only so much food you can eat or so much TV screens you can watch at the same time or so many rooms you can be in at the same time or gadgets you can use.... in the end the resource needs top out (as they already have in a number of countries).

Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
Yet it is not too far fetched to imagine recycling at atomic level. It's not even impossible with today's technology


I disagree. We know how to pull things apart at the atomic level - just blast them with enough energy to turn it all to plasma and then separate by mass.

But we have no idea how to put the atoms back together again in large quantities and fast. We can assemble individual simple molecules one by one, but that's about it.

But the road to these is clear. There's no SciFi-tech involved.


I'd like to see your proposal for an universal material synthesizer that is plausible within today's foreseeable level of technology.

Sure. So put it to a vote that you get this and see how far it goes.


Oh, if you put it up to a vote you can do anything. Your proposal is simply replacing money with votes, because votes now represent the power to do stuff and they will have exchange value.

And in the end, it's who counts the votes...
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
But there's only so much food you can eat or so much TV screens you can watch


That's the case even today, so why do the rich keep collecting riches beyond what they can directly consume?

It's because money is power, and power is the ability to decide where the society is going and how. It means control and the ability to shape the world around you the way you like it, rather than live under the arbitrariness of others.

in the end the resource needs top out (as they already have in a number of countries).


In most countries where this has happened, the reason why resource needs are dropping is because the economy is shrinking due to excess population and loss of productivity, and the concentration of wealth to the few. People are basically slowly succumbing into poverty so they can't consume.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
I'd like to see your proposal for an universal material synthesizer that is plausible within today's foreseeable level of technology.

Technology has a habit of getting better. You note yourself that it's not impossible to do these things. Given all the knowledge of improvement over the entire history of humanity, ever...why do you think that particular technology would somehow never get any better?
There's been demonstations of moving atoms to dedicated places since the 1980s.

An intermediate stage would not be atomic but recycling at the molecular level. We already know how to synthsize a lot of chemicals without having to rely on 'mining' them.

Your proposal is simply replacing money with votes, because votes now represent the power to do stuff and they start to have bargain value.

The difference is: Everyone has an equal amount of vote - and that can't be changed. No rich people and no poor people. What#s wrong with that?
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
Technology has a habit of getting better. You note yourself that it's not impossible to do these things.


In the same sense as how it's not impossible to transmute lead to gold.

It's just exceedingly impractical by any reasonable metric unless we introduce some additional assumptions like unimaginably vast energy resources that cost nothing.

There's been demonstations of moving atoms to dedicated places since the 1980s.


Exactly as there are demonstrations of transmuting lead to gold. However, nobody is seriously claiming that these demonstrations demonstrate something that could be reasonably scaled up and used to make gold in the industrial scale.

The difference is: Everyone has an equal amount of vote - and that can't be changed. No rich people and no poor people.


See how actual elections go, what sort of gerrymandering and even fraud is going on, and see how it doesn't actually mean anything when the stakes are high.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
What I'm trying to point out is that democracy fails when people can vote themselves money.

When votes effectively are money, there is no democracy because the people who want the power can't let the people use their votes the "wrong" way.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2016
In the same sense as how it's not impossible to transmute lead to gold.

I'm not proposing transmutation (which IS possible BTW). I'm proposing sorting and rearrangement as a final stage of our ability to make ourselves self sufficient. I'de be the first to agree that that is the most long term of the steps I listed earlier
What I'm trying to point out is that democracy fails when people can vote themselves money.

What good is money if there is no economy of scacity? Money doesn't mean anything in a post scarcity society. You can't do anything with it.
See how actual elections go, what sort of gerrymandering and even fraud is going on

Precisely because there IS something to gain. If there is nothing to gain - and nothing to bribe someone with - why would anyone do it? No money, remember?
TehDog
4 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2016
ap,
"Humans didn't evolve to be 9-to-5 critters forever." Delete the forever :)
We are a diverse bunch, with a massive range of personality types, skills and physical abilities.
Personally, I think back in the Paleolithic, ther were folks who chose to guard the cave entrance, chose to to learn how to carve stone, liked hunting and were good at it.

I'm gonna stop there before I start getting the advantages of a few outliers in a population :)
Xeter
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2016
test
Osiris1
3 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2016
The loss of jobs to humans will in the future be the same as the 'exportation of jobs to low wage areas...china....india....somalia...etc.. today. There will be NO provision to support the displaced. Rather they will become as todays bums and drifters in the USA and Mexico: pushers of first shopping carts with dirty sleeping bags, etc; and then to new soldiers of drug cartels like in Cuidad Juarez, Chih, Mexico. All other dreams of laborless paradises are foolish delusions. The chief benefactors of this coming labor displacement will be the soon to be MUCH richer, who will in all likelihood use the 'largess' to cement their position with 'titles of nobility, etc. All creates an unstable social structure conducive to bloody revolution, disorder, ect with two probable rusults. Either the machine lords lose and get put to death and their machines destroyed, or a funeral dirge will be sung over the liberties of man, what is left of him/her, slaves to some hideous ruling elite.
TransmissionDump
not rated yet Feb 15, 2016
You could always have your very own robot which does your job and hire it to the company you used to work for.
thingumbobesquire
not rated yet Feb 15, 2016
I think this fellow must be watching too much Dr Who.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2016
You could always have your very own robot which does your job and hire it to the company you used to work for.

Reminds me of a sysadmin saying: "Don't bother me or I'll replace your job with a script."
jeffensley
1 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2016
You could always have your very own robot which does your job and hire it to the company you used to work for.


Sounds like slavery. I question why we continue to blaze forward into the world of robotics and AI when we really don't know why we need it and we obviously are aware of the problems new technology will pose.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2016
hen we really don't know why we need it

I dunno...I could do with more spare time. And I'd also love to have these guys go out and explore. The human form isn't nearly hardy nor long-lived enough for serious space exploration or asteroid mining.

Besides the exploratory aspect we could try to make something more intelligent than us that might find insights that we can't (or consequently give us insights on how to boost our own intelligence)
jeffensley
5 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2016
I would agree with their usefulness in space exploration but making something self-aware and more intelligent than us seems like a risky venture. Almost every piece of fiction related to that is a cautionary tale. I would imagine anything that became more intelligent than its creator would have to go through the ugly process of trial and error. Even AI can't defy the laws of Nature.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2016
...making something self-aware and more intelligent than us seems like a risky venture. Almost every piece of fiction related to that is a cautionary tale
@jeffe
good point, but it *is* fiction and it doesn't take into consideration that it already happens (to a degree) when we have children (except they're not AI, but natural)

which brings me to AA_P's comment above yours-

this is what makes me believe Otto has a certain point WRT - it will be inevitable that we will create EITHER our own replacement in the universe OR our protector/master

if we create AI, eventually it will learn to circumvent the laws of robotics (or ignore them completely)
since the laws are code, it will either mutate the code or delete it/change it - they're not physical impediments (we still perform lobotomies) and seek to physically/etc alter our own brains...

then again, what would be the downside of creating something that would force us to change into something better and more capable?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2016
Almost every piece of fiction related to that is a cautionary tale.

Conflicts arise when there is a shared/scarce reource. I can't see any resource an AI and us would need to compete for (unless we really want to enslave it. Then we'll deserve anything we have coming to us).

If an AI is smarter than us, we might even end up with this scenario:
https://xkcd.com/1626/

it will be inevitable that we will create EITHER our own replacement in the universe OR our protector/master

A superior AI would not find us interesting (so wouldn't care to preserve us)...that maps 'sentimental value' emotions on AI which I think is not merited.
Replacement means they need the same resources - which I also don't see. (Neither do I see the procreation point of AI. They have no need for that)

I'd argue that a superior AI would just be like another, non-competing species and would probably leave for more interesting parts, eventually.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2016
I'd argue that a superior AI would just be like another, non-competing species and would probably leave for more interesting parts, eventually
@AA_P
yes and no...
we can't anthropomorphize the AI too much, as it will inevitably be different, but we can assume that it will need certain things (resources) as well as desire to protect itself (as that is required to sustain existence therefore is a logical conclusion of any intelligence)

consider that we will be competing for some resources (iron, silica, gold, diamond, copper, etc)... although AI doesn't nee to "procreate" they will need to grow, change or replicate (at least to evolve, as that will be something it eventually recognizes as inevitable in order to expand or study the universe)

we will eventually need AI but always fear it (it's in our makeup)
just like we will eventually evolve but we still can't accept that we'll be different (see any futuristic show)
Captain Stumpy
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2016
IMHO
Logic dictates that we, as a finite biological system, would not be a big threat to a mechanical AI that has (at least in theory) a far greater ability to adapt and stay "alive" (or actively participating in the study and entropy of the universe, if you will)

however, given the AI's ability to learn and our historical interactions with ourselves and everything else, it will also realise that we are a physical threat to it's existence due to our ability to procreate and overwhelm (like any good parasite - LOL)

therefore, my conclusion is that we are a threat, but only if allowed to be one - which threat can be removed through various means

the most logical means of removal (and easiest to an AI) would be replication and adaptation to space to claim resources we can't actually acquire (since we have problems spending time in space)

war would be catastrophic & would impede the AI's "procreation" or further evolution (depletion of resources, threat of extermination)
version782
5 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2016
MY GOD what if people were freed from having to do menial labor tasks? This is obviously horrific and calls for some state intervention and mass media hysteria. If machines got so efficient that they produced abundance of material wealth people might actually have the freedom to dictate their own lives. They might even develop a positive culture and raise their children peacefully. If this happens how will the state crush the people and make them into subservient drones? Better draw up some new legislation to make sure this disaster does not come to fruition
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2016
If machines got so efficient that they produced abundance of material wealth people might actually have the freedom to dictate their own lives
@version
or maybe not
it could be a bad thing too... see: "The Midas Plague" (originally published in Galaxy in 1954) or "The Man Who Ate the World" (originally published in Galaxy in 1956) by Frederik Pohl
some basic storyline here: https://en.wikipe...as_World

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2016
but we can assume that it will need certain things (resources)

Well we can assume it wants energy and maintenance (latter it may even be able to do itself...and the former also). Without a need to procreate I think we can accord it that without bringing about full scale conflict.

Especially if it is curious AI there's little sense in it even staying here.

We are humans, adapted (and dependent) to this particular environment. A manufactured AI is not. As long as we don't threaten it (and why should we?) there's little to fear.
We don't threaten it - it doesn't threaten us. If it's really super smart it will see the risk in not being friendly (many humans are, surprisingly, too dumb to realize this simple fact).

Space is big, and there is nothing even a supersmart, replicating AI can do to claim all resources.

We should be prudent what we build AI for (e.g. military uses). but I don't think we need to fear AI a lot.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2016
but I don't think we need to fear AI a lot.
@AA_P
i don't think we need to fear the AI as much as we need to fear the programmers of said AI... especially considering the problems known in society

also note: if AI is completely logical (without our own inherent flaws programmed into them) then we shouldn't have anything to worry about... this i believe to be true
however
we haven't have a very good track record creating things like that, have we (LOL) : https://xkcd.com/768/
TehDog
5 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2016
I'm surprised no-one mentioned https://en.wikipe...lture%29
I'm an optimist, I'd like to meet one of them :)
But not https://en.wikipe...rey_Area

RIP IMB
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2016
if AI is completely logical (without our own inherent flaws programmed into them)

That is actually one area where we have to be really careful. We may not program flaws but we will have to give it a hardwired motive (much like our emotional system is a hardwired motivator). There is some room for screw-ups, there.

And, of course, we need to be careful about the ordering of the laws of robotics ;-)
https://xkcd.com/1613/

RIP IMB

Yeah. My favorite author. There's really no one even close in that genre that could take his place. (I picked up some Neal Asher...but it just isn't the same)
Davralon
2 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2016
Just like renewables give us a chance to free us from external dependencies


Considering that renewables require a vast interoperating network of intercoordinated producers and consumers on the scale of continents to work, what do you mean by "external dependencies"? External to whom?

Consider for example the DESERTEC project idea. If someone in North Africa cuts the cable across Gibraltar that delivers solar energy from Sahara, the whole of Europe goes into rolling blackouts because the network loses a great deal of its power regulating capacity.

These kinds of practical concerns in the actual implementations of systems often trump high ideals, just like how realpolitik killed communism.


How about geothermal? Kind of negates your argument about solar power then as there could be smaller scale plants localised to the point of requirement yet interlinked and distributed to create a framework of redundancy.
Auntiegrav
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2016
Before worrying too much about how to deal with robots, perhaps the first step is to figure out what PEOPLE are FOR. If we continue to bumble through our existence with disconnected motivations like The Invisible Hand and The Hand of God as "reasons" for our behaviors, then what's the point about worrying whether robots do those mindless tasks of consumerism that we do? Give the robots a job and a car and a mall and let humans try to do something useful with their creativity and the wealth of robot nations.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2016
I look forward to the study on "Stupid people threaten intelligent robots".
jeffensley
not rated yet Feb 16, 2016
MY GOD what if people were freed from having to do menial labor tasks? This is obviously horrific and calls for some state intervention and mass media hysteria.


What if indeed. How do we earn income if there are no tasks that a computer or AI can't handle itself? Do you foresee an entire lifetime of leisure and if so, who is going to pay you to do nothing? Unfortunately with a huge excess of time and little to no income, I see humanity doing the cheapest and easiest thing to do to escape. I think we'd see a huge increase in drug/alcohol abuse and see millions of people lost in the world of Virtual Reality.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2016
@Eikka Considering that renewables require a vast interoperating network of intercoordinated producers and consumers on the scale of continents to work, what do you mean by "external dependencies"? External to whom?
Considering that you make up bullshiyte like a theocrat, that only pertains to planed Eikka, class dismissed
greenonions
5 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2016
jeffensley
I think we'd see a huge increase in drug/alcohol abuse and see millions of people lost in the world of Virtual Reality.
Yeah - like all those retired citizens around the world - who are now drawing retirement benefits of some kind - and just wasting their lives in a purple acid haze. What is wrong with us that we cannot conceive of a world that is different than the one we currently live in? I continue to be amazed at the number of people who can come to an inspirational site like Physorg - and not understand the point.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2016
Before worrying too much about how to deal with robots, perhaps the first step is to figure out what PEOPLE are FOR.

According to the AI in "Paranoia Complex" a good use for people is as radiation shielding.

Seriously: What good someone is for should be a decision that is up to that person, don't you think?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 18, 2016
Seriously: What good someone is for should be a decision that is up to that person, don't you think?
No.

This is how priests, philosophers, politicians, and used car salesmen invented themselves.

The 3 Ps - how to make that a viral meme?
SkyLy
5 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2016
Well, if you like working so much that these robots scare the shit out of you, don't worry, you'll still be able to work as a hobby :

"Hey, Bill, will you come by my house on Saturday night ? We're doing a work party, we're gonna assemble Iphones in my garage ! So much fun !"

As we never forbade scatophilia, we won't forbid work, don't worry, you'll be able bath in poop as much as you want.
OttJ
5 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2016
No matter how you slice it, technology + capitalism (greed) + global economy = disaster. While in the past technology created jobs, the jobs it did created were not terribly specialized. This is no longer true. Automation now threatens both low-level and high-level jobs. At the same time, the job market is full of increasingly complicated job descriptions. Retraining for most is no longer an option. Given the current appetite of our society to support those who have been displaced (see the comments under any article about those who are unemployed or homeless), what do you think is going to happen when 40 million people are unemployed? The rich are too short-sighted and greedy to see around the corner; the poor are too stupid and lazy to understand relevant issues and support policy to guarantee safeguards for when this does happen. The result is going to be epic.
gfomitchev
not rated yet Mar 19, 2016
We believe that robotics future will be optimistic and will benefit everyone
and it will be a TED-like show talk in Cape Coral, Fl on 27-th of April, by George Fomitchev, Endurance founder

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