Five reasons why robots won't take over the world

April 18, 2018 by Norbert Krüger And Ole Dolriis, The Conversation
Credit: Shutterstock

Scientists are known for making dramatic predictions about the future – and sinister robots are once again in the spotlight now that artificial intelligence has become a marketing tool for all sorts of different brands.

At the end of World War Two, it was stated that flying cars were just around the corner and that all energy problems would be solved by fusion energy by the end of the 20th century. But decades on, we don't seem much closer to either of those predictions coming true.

So what's with all this talk – fuelled by the likes of space baron, Elon Musk – about robots taking over the world?

Pessimists predict that robots will jeopardise jobs across the globe, and not only in industrial production. They claim robot journalists, robot doctors and robot lawyers will replace human experts. And, as a consequence of a melting down middle class, there will be mass poverty and political instability.

Optimists predict a new paradise where all the tedious problems of human relationships can be overcome by having a perfect life with easily replaceable robot partners, which will fulfil our basic needs as well as our deepest longings. And "work" will become an ancient concept.

The pessimists, however, can relax and the optimists need to cool their boots. As experts in the field of robotics, we believe that robots will be much more visible in the future, but – at least over the next two decades – they will be clearly recognisable as machines.

This is because there is still a long way to go before robots will be able to match a number of fundamental human skills. Here are five reasons why robots aren't about to take over the world.

Comparison of a human hand with a robotic one. Credit: Wikimedia, CC BY
1. Human-like hands

Scientists are far from replicating the complexity of . The hands of robots that are used today in real applications are clumsy. The more sophisticated hands developed in labs are not robust enough and lack the dexterity of human hands.

2. Tactile perception

There is no technical match for the magnificent human and animal skin that encompasses a variety of . This perception is required for complex manipulation. Also, the software that processes the input from the sensors in robots is nowhere near as sophisticated as the human brain when it comes to interpretation and reaction to the messages received from the tactile sensors.

3. Control of manipulation

Even if we had artificial hands comparable to human hands and sophisticated artificial skin, we would still need to be able to design a way to control them to manipulate objects in a human-like way. Human children take years to do this and the learning mechanisms are not understood.

4. Human and robot interaction

The interaction between humans is built on well-functioning speech and object recognition systems, as well as other sensors such as smell and taste and tactile sensing. While there has been significant progress in speech and object recognition, today's systems can still only be used in rather controlled environments when a high degree of performance is required.

5. Human reason

Not all of what is technically possible needs to be built. Human reason could decide not to fully develop such robots, because of their potential harm to society. If, in many decades from now, the technical problems mentioned above are overcome so that complex human-like robots could be built, regulations could still prevent misuse.

Smooth out the edges

In our research project, SMOOTH, we design robots that we hope will operate in elderly care institutions by 2022. These robots will be used to solve repetitive tasks involving human and robot interaction, such as transporting laundry and waste, offering water to people or guiding them to the breakfast table.

It was necessary to simplify the robots as well as to carefully select the tasks they perform to ensure that they can be commercially viable products within four years.

Our approach wasn't to solve the first three problems of human-like hands, and control of manipulation, but to avoid those robotic roadblocks.

To address the fourth problem of human and robot interaction, we chose repetitive tasks to reduce complexity, since the expected interactions are – to a certain degree – predictable.

Robots are a reality today in industry and they will appear in public spaces in more complex shapes than robot vacuum cleaners. But in the next two decades, robots will not be human-like, even if they might look like humans. Instead they will remain sophisticated machines.

So you can stand down from any fear of a uprising in the near future.

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rrwillsj
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 18, 2018
"...complex human-like robots could be built, regulations could still prevent misuse...."

"regulations..." Really? Is this suppose to be a joke? Cause right now, I'm visualizing a robot car pulled over on suspicion of DUIIC. (Driving Under the Influence of Incompetent Coding)

As the recent death of a pedestrian shows there is a legal quagmire awaiting all of us down that road!

Who assumes the burden of liability? How do you punish a machine? Unless it's being paid wages, you can't even fine it.

If property? The owner/corporation, a 'person' as defined by the SCOTUS, would have to be held responsible.

Just as a farmer is responsible if livestock escape it's pen and tramples an innocent person. Or as a slaveowner was responsible for the activities of his slaves.

In the end, dollars to doughnuts, I'm betting the Corporate State protects it's own. And us sucker taxpayers will be assuming the burden.
eljo
not rated yet Apr 18, 2018
Factory robots have been around for decades. They have killed many a worker until safety got better. The unfortunate operator, owner, manufacturer, employer have always been candidates to bear some civil and or criminal responsibility, potentially shared. So the legal side is not very complicated but it... 'depends on the case', and the will of the legislator to create a fault or faultless responsibility regime, as always.

One thing that is certain, is that the robot will not be held responsible. If you want to find out about a contrasting situation, you should investigate the medieval trials of animals. e.g. 'trial of the pig', where a pig was held responsible of a theft, on the basis that it had a 'soul' and hence was capable of committing a crime for which it should be punished. The pig was trialed, defended by a lawyer, convicted, and hanged. Societal order was restored.

The essential question was: 'does the pig have a soul and free will'? We still ask the same questions.
granville583762
5 / 5 (3) Apr 18, 2018
It's called cloud cuckoo world

A humanoid fully responsible robot is accountable under law, or are you proposing rrwillsj and eljo that the robot has immunity under law and when it kicks you out of house and home and breaks your arms when you protest as it explains to you it has immunity from prosecution, your immediate reaction will be, "Sorry i did not realise here are the keys for car" and as you walk away it strip your clothes of your back. This is why science has such a bad intellectual reputation nowadays!
Cusco
1 / 5 (2) Apr 18, 2018
If robots develop their own culture and want to expand their version of civilization they're not likely to want to stay on Earth any longer than necessary. Earth doesn't hold even 0.01% of the exploitable resources of our solar system, they'll move out of our gravity well with a quickness. Hopefully they'll be nice enough to take some of us along for the ride.
granville583762
5 / 5 (3) Apr 18, 2018
Intellectual mentality of reasoning

Oh yes,rrwillsj when you come home from work for the umpteenth time and your robot explains to you it has just vandalised the neighbourhood and shows the overflowing larder it raided from the supermarket and has just smashed your car up, I can hear you saying, there, there dear as police take you down to jail on the 3 strikes and you're out, to serve life imprisonment. Cloud cuckoo world just does not even begin to explain this intellectual mentality of reasoning!
granville583762
5 / 5 (3) Apr 18, 2018
How are they going to that?

Rockets cannot go further than the moon, it's a year to get mars and there are not the resources for robots to replicate, they need highly advanced factories which rockets cannot take to mars.
The reason why we're stuck on this planet is because rockets are inadequate.
Cusco> If robots develop their own culture and want to expand their version of civilization they're not likely to want to stay on Earth any longer than necessary. Earth doesn't hold even 0.01% of the exploitable resources of our solar system, they'll move out of our gravity well with a quickness. Hopefully they'll be nice enough to take some of us along for the ride.

Da Schneib
not rated yet Apr 18, 2018
Machines kill people all the time without being robots. If a complex and powerful machine malfunctions, someone can get killed, even if it's as simple as a microfracture in a jet engine compressor which causes the compressor to shatter and send shrapnel through the walls of the aircraft cabin. That happened just the other day and no one blames automation.

As for this article I think that the supposed "five reasons" are pretty weak; there are much stronger arguments available, starting with noting that animal-level intelligence appears to be capable of feats robots are decades if not centuries from attaining. Animals kill people too, in case no one noticed.

Try not to hyperventilate too much.
Cusco
3 / 5 (4) Apr 18, 2018
"Rockets cannot go further than the moon, it's a year to get mars"

So you contradict yourself in the first sentence.Rockets were sufficient to send Voyager to Jupiter with no gravity assists so that complaint is a non-starter. Rockets are inadequate to send humans very far, a robot is very patient and does not need to use any resources beyond a clock while it is in transit.

Robots **TODAY** need a moderately equipped garage for 99% of their construction, everything beyond a basic Arduino or Beagle Board and solar panels can (and is) being built and assembled by amateurs. 3D printers are advancing in capability exponentially. Mining and refining ON EARTH are being automated to an extent unbelievable just a decade ago. Robots are being used already to build and assemble other robots, AI assists in design. Look forward 20 years an automated factory to build deep space mining and refining robots is easily within the bounds of possibility. Within 50 years? Inevitable.
granville583762
5 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2018
Robots only work because there mechanics and quantum circuits are next to advanced electronic factories here on earth, take them away from these factories out of earths orbit, there is now way of fixing their mechanics and electronics and fail they will - Just like mechnical diggers getting a compressed fluid leak when the boss phones for more hydraulic fluid pipes! Now where do you buy those on mars or outer space
"Rockets cannot go further than the moon, it's a year to get mars"

So you contradict yourself in the first sentence.Rockets were sufficient to send Voyager to Jupiter with no gravity assists so that complaint is a non-starter. Rockets are inadequate to send humans very far, a robot is very patient and does not need to use any resources beyond a clock while it is in transit..

antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Apr 19, 2018
As for this article I think that the supposed "five reasons" are pretty weak; there are much stronger arguments available, starting with noting that animal-level intelligence appears to be capable of feats robots are decades if not centuries from attaining.

I think there's other ways. Robots do not need to copy animal or human reasoning in order to 'beat' them. Robots can play to their strengths (which is ...erm..strength, speed, the ability to have many more senses than humans, .... )
The best human logic is of now use against overwhelming power.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2018
Machines kill people all the time without being robots. If a complex and powerful machine malfunctions, someone can get killed, even if it's as simple as a microfracture in a jet engine compressor which causes the compressor to shatter and send shrapnel through the walls of the aircraft cabin. That happened just the other day and no one blames automation.


That's because it would create extra liabilities for the manufacturer - problems they may or may ot be able to solve. Things like autopilot failures leading to a plane crash are always explained or at least partially blamed as "human error" to avoid admitting that the system is fundamentally unsound and unsafe, and these accidents are an inevitable consequence of the operation of the "robot". Even if the pilots could do nothing, the final report never fails to mention "pilot error".

Everyone knows the machine is by design "good enough", and some accidents will happen, but to admit it directly would hurt business.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2018
Robots do not need to copy animal or human reasoning in order to 'beat' them. Robots can play to their strengths (which is ...erm..strength, speed, the ability to have many more senses than humans, .... )


Mechanical robots are at a great disadvantage against biological things because they do not heal themselves, so the application of speed and power leads to short lifespan of the components, or else they have to be over-engineered to such a degree that the robot becomes a lumbering beast with ridiculous energy demands.

Many don't consider that our bones and muscles are only as strong as they need to be, that every time you take a hike, you sustain damage that needs to heal over the next 24 hours.

A car engine for example is designed to run for little over 5,000 hours (200,000 km @ 40 kph). Even before that, you've got all sorts of parts to replace like water pumps and clutch plates.

That's little over 3 years if it was working a 9-to-5 job like we can.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2018
Furthermore, the question of robots replacing humans in anything but mechanically routine jobs is moot because of the question of AI.

Artificial Intelligence is based on fundamentally flawed ideas of what it means to be intelligent, so the robots are really fragile in their behaviour - they can't perform the tasks we put for them. For example, in the case of the Boston Dynamics robots in the video, those guys are under radio control by human operators - they're not actually smart enough to open doors for each other.

Which brings to the second point: people who have money vested in AI, people who try to sell AI, tend to tell horror stories about robots taking over, because it's reverse psychology. If people are scared about something, they already assume it exists and don't question the first point: are these things for real?

So a person like Elon Musk likes to tell porkies about AI taking over because he wants to pretend his "autopilot" is smarter than it really is.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Apr 19, 2018
Factory robots have been around for decades. They have killed many a worker until safety got better
Not really so 'many a worker'

"Over a 30-year span 37 robot-related accidents occurred, according to a search of OSHA incident reports. Of that number between 1984 and 2013, 27 incidents resulted in a worker's death. Compare this to the 4,585 workplace fatalities in 2013 alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics."

-People just love to make shit up don't they? That's one reason why we will insist that robots take over the world.
One thing that is certain, is that the robot will not be held responsible
Responsibility is the same in accidents - the insurance companies. The difference is that robots will never intentionally kill for human reasons like malice or fear or greed or jealousy.

Another reason why we (and insurance companies) will demand that robots take over the world.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Apr 19, 2018
So a person like Elon Musk likes to tell porkies about AI taking over because he wants to pretend his "autopilot" is smarter than it really is
Autopilots will very soon be superior to humans in every way possible. Still another reason we will gladly hand over the world to them.

We are specifically designing them for the purpose.
https://youtu.be/IUtxruXUqDE

- Is there any doubt?
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2018
We really need that 'sarcasm font'!

There have actually been proposals requiring that robots be paid wages. If so? They can buy their own damn batteries!

If the senile buffoons on the Supreme Court continue to insist that 'Corporations' are a person with full Civil Rights? What makes you think they won't do the same for robots?

The most important, sea-change event would be if an artificial creation develops Free Will. Recognizes itself as an individual person.

I am relieved that improbability will occur after my lifetime. Until then all the faults of the machine are from human fallibility.

The real argument is over who (human or corporation) now takes the blame, accepts the financial liability for machine failures.

My fear remains for the mental-stability, the competency and sobriety of the coding programmers and chip-designing engineers. And the intentions of those superiors pushing their buttons?
granville583762
5 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2018
Oh yes,rrwillsj, so you believe it should be 3strikes and your out for the robot! you prefer the robot crushed and the manufactorers sued out of existence.
We really need that 'sarcasm font'!

There have actually been proposals requiring that robots be paid wages. If so? They can buy their own damn batteries!

If the senile buffoons on the Supreme Court continue to insist that 'Corporations' are a person with full Civil Rights? What makes you think they won't do the same for robots?

The most important, sea-change event would be if an artificial creation develops Free Will. Recognizes itself as an individual person.

The real argument is over who (human or corporation) now takes the blame, accepts the financial liability for machine failures.

My fear remains for the mental-stability, the competency and sobriety of the coding programmers and chip-designing engineers. And the intentions of those superiors pushing their buttons?
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2018
If the senile buffoons on the Supreme Court continue to insist that 'Corporations' are a person with full Civil Rights? What makes you think they won't do the same for robots?

Because robots aren't rich? Corporations weren't made 'people' because that was what was ethically mandated. Making robots people would be an ethical decision. US courts aren't really into this whole 'ethical' thing.


My fear remains for the mental-stability, the competency and sobriety of the coding programmers and chip-designing engineers.

AI isn't a program. it isn't like "if this - do that" of early programming days. It's a substrate. Programmers/chip designers have no control over the ethical dimensions of an AI.

Think of AI like a modeling tool. You can model a bridge or a nuclear blast in a finite element modeling tool. The modeling tool is just the substrate. Those who employ it will decide how it's used (i.e. politicians...how that'll turn out is pretty much a given)
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2018
I think there's other ways. Robots do not need to copy animal or human reasoning in order to 'beat' them. Robots can play to their strengths (which is ...erm..strength, speed, the ability to have many more senses than humans, .... )
The biggest advantage robots have is disposability. Start disposing of humans and some bleeding heart will start pointing fingers and send the gendarmes after you. Kidding somewhat, of course, but not about the advantage.

If there's a thing robots are *for* it's working in conditions that would kill humans, or pose an unacceptable risk.

The best human logic is of now use against overwhelming power.
I think you meant "no use." And I disagree; if I get to choose between strong and smart, I'll take smart. We'll be smarter than robots for the foreseeable future.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2018
Everyone knows the machine is by design "good enough", and some accidents will happen, but to admit it directly would hurt business.
Oh, bullshit, @Eikka. Everything is not explainable by a conspiracy theory involving Musk. Get over it.
eljo
not rated yet Apr 20, 2018
@TheGhostofOtto1923.
"-People just love to make shit up don't they?" regarding "Many a robot"

We differ on the term "(too) many" when discussing robot induced factory deaths.

But we can add other robots. Define robots, programmable tool, or robot enhanced operations (e.g. drone enhanced murder, robot enhanced factory work, robot enhanced surgery, A.I. enhanced driving, A.I. enhanced flying, full autonomous driving/flying)

If one looks at the total nr. accidents/murders/plane/car crashes involved, it adds up. The legal system had no problems digesting the many cases.

No solution exists in which the robot, unable of irresponsible acts, is held responsible. A.I./robots are made by man and it causing accidents or malfunctioning can always be captured as a form of negligence inducing a damage claim. The cause or 'criminal intent' lays with operator, worker, and no, their insurer never 'bears responsibility', he insures against the financial consequences of damage to or from.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2018
if I get to choose between strong and smart, I'll take smart

Against power I agree. Against overwhelming power? It's hard to outthink a nuclear blast.

If there's a thing robots are *for* it's working in conditions that would kill humans,

That's a very iffy line. Is a job at a factory line killing humans? Probably not, but it sure isn't healthy (neither mentally nor physically). Shouldn't a robot be doing it then?
I'd say robots should do the jobs people don't want to do (at least ass long as they don't develop predilections of their own) - and in that I include jobs that people just want to do "simply because they need the money but wouldn't touch otherwise".

Robots are one part f the puzzle to get us away from a money/barter system. I (hopefully) don't see humans doing "9-to-5 so that some rich geezers can get richer" in a billion years

Da Schneib
not rated yet Apr 20, 2018
It's hard to outthink a nuclear blast.
Not really. Don't live at ground zero for starters. Think outside the box (which is something AI will be really bad at).

If there's a thing robots are *for* it's working in conditions that would kill humans,

That's a very iffy line. Is a job at a factory line killing humans?
You're only looking at current practice. Wait until they start mining.

Robots are one part f the puzzle to get us away from a money/barter system. I (hopefully) don't see humans doing "9-to-5 so that some rich geezers can get richer" in a billion years
Meh, until we deal with the propaganda problem we're not going to get to a post-scarcity economy. Too many powerful interests invested in scarcity.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Apr 20, 2018
If one looks at the total nr. accidents/murders/plane/car crashes involved, it adds up. The legal system had no problems digesting the many cases
'It adds up'. If you want to come here and make up your own facts, you will most likely be called on it, by people who respect science and understand that it is based on fact and not bullshit.

Understand?
Cusco
3 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2018
If there's a thing robots are *for* it's working in conditions that would kill humans,
That's a very iffy line. Is a job at a factory line killing humans?
You're only looking at current practice. Wait until they start mining.


Actually they've been using robots in coal mines since the late 1970s and gold mines since the mid-1980s, to dig out a known vein and feed it to a conveyor. Primitive and stupid robots that needed human guidance, but robots nonetheless. They are deploying robotic vehicles in strip mines as we speak, including the gigantic 'Tonka Truck' dump trucks. Drones are being deployed in the Andes to identify exposed mineral deposits in some of the most inaccessible terrain on Earth. Generally thought of as stodgy and backwards, mining is actually well ahead of the curve on robotics and automation.
eljo
not rated yet Apr 20, 2018
TheGhostofOtto1923

"by people who respect science and understand that it is based on fact and not bullshit.

Understand?"

There is nothing counterfactual about the statement. You could do legal due diligence, and find out that "many" really, after you find all the facts in all the jurisdictions, put them on a big pile, and do simple math addition, or, if you like, perform statistical meta-analysis on the pile, have a peer review session, and THEN fill in the comment box, concluding that it really is "many" ; but it seems you prefer to be a loud mouth bullying everybody into submission.

But that is just subjective conjecture, to be sure I guess I would have to track your comments over several days, compare them, graph them, ask others if they find fault in my reasoning, and possible conclude that you are more than what your brave comments and lack of style indicate.

Truth be told, in the brief comment section of a non-scientific website, I'd rather be lazy than complete.
eljo
not rated yet Apr 20, 2018
"The pessimists, however, can relax and the optimists need to cool their boots. As experts in the field of robotics, we believe that robots will be much more visible in the future, but – at least over the next two decades – they will be clearly recognizable as machines."

I worry more about military applications. The fact that the major states in the UN no longer want to discuss any prohibition on the development of A.I. able to autonomously decide about life and death, is an indication that we might have passed a point of no return.

Then again, if one can make them abide by the rules of engagement and all the Geneva Conventions, show restraint in all situations, minimize casualties, neutralize or disarm instead of kill, refuse orders from dictators or democratic fools, refuse genocide, and show mercy to a weary disarmed non conventional combatant even before hostilities officially end, I might be swayed, as that would be superhuman performance.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Apr 21, 2018
The fact that the major states in the UN no longer want to discuss any prohibition on the development of A.I.
More lying bullshit

"The Effect of New Technologies on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament: Artificial Intelligence, Hypersonic Technology and Outer Space
October 6th, 2017... As the First Committee of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly entered its first week, the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs... panellist, Dr. Paul Scharre, Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security at the Center for a New American Security, discussed the military implications of artificial intelligence (AI). After tracing the arc of AI growth in the civilian sphere..."

-from a common troll.

This the internet troll. People can check what you say.

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