Should we fear the rise of the robots?


Since the oldest times people have sought for ways to save them from hard physical work and menial activities. To find solutions they have invented new tools, domesticated animals, and created new machines. As new technological innovations were created, people quickly adopted them and assimilated them into their lives. While many of them understood that technology brings them new opportunities to improve their living standards and to grow their wealth, many others have started to fear what would happen once the robots will reach a certain level of intelligence.  

Many experts across different fields are sharing with the public their concern over the rise of intelligent robots. Their fears seem valid, but it’s important to state from the beginning that they’ve decided to voice their opinions not to prohibit technology, but to improve it.

Here are some of the reasons why people fear the rise of robots.

People are afraid of the unknown

The fact is that most of the people are afraid to adopt or try new things. The reasons for doing it are various, but the result is the same, many people prefer to choose the thing that it’s familiar, the one they know how to use. And where do you count that there are also people who are actively operating to discourage change?

 If until a few years ago, people were more than happy to try the latest solutions that helped them ease their work, nowadays they prefer to stay away from multiple technological advancements because they consider a threat to their wellbeing.

But there is always a tipping point and people are driven from resistance to acceptance because they understand the advantages they would benefit from if they would choose the new unknown thing.

People don’t like interacting with robots

Do you know what the Turing test implies? In 1950, Alan Turing established the benchmark for AI, if people are interacting with robots in conversation, and they cannot distinguish them from persons, they have to admit that the machines are capable of true intelligence.

No one could doubt people were dealing with machines when they had the first interactions, but in the present times when people can talk to their mobile phones via programs like Siri, they are no longer sure if they can distinguish them from persons.

Now people are having difficulties to integrate robots and AI into their lives because they no longer feel comfortable to interact with robots. It remains to be seen if people will see robots as part of their life, and they will decide to accept their presence or if they will continue to be frightened of machines.

Only because a thing does not make us feel comfortable it doesn’t mean it’s not good for us. No one can deny the incomparable advantages technology integration brings to both individuals and companies. By using machines, businesses are able to improve their business effectiveness and to protect their employees from hazardous activities. They count on robot software to create and control machines that help them grow their businesses without posing risks to the human workforce and the surrounding environment.

Fiction and movies were not kind to AI and robots

How did people create robots a bad image? The depictions of the media had an important role in influencing their impression. Westworld, Alien, Matrix, and Ex Machina are only some of the movies that showed how things can go wrong if robots gain intelligence. From the earliest depictions of robots in science fiction the message was the same, robots have a single purpose to dominate the world.

Ex Machina is a movie that follows a programmer who goes into his CEO house to perform the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot. The end of the movie shows a robot using artificial skin to take a full-human appearance, leaving the programmer trapped inside the house to die.

All movies and fiction materials make us wonder if robots will one day expect to have equal rights. Instead of making people feel afraid of using technology, movies and fiction should be used to show the positive part of the rise of robots. If they are carefully programmed, they will help the human kind reach a new level of wellbeing.

People are afraid that robots will take their jobs away

More and more people feel this immediate fear. For example, in the automotive industry, robots are used to assemble cars, but it doesn’t mean that no human is working on the premises. Humans have other tasks to accomplish, they no longer complete the jobs that would pose danger to their life, they are supervising the robots making sure they are 100% efficient. AI may threaten some jobs, but it leads to the growth and rise of others.

People should not be afraid of intelligent robots, but of the stupid AI, the one that is created without considering the consequences. It’s imperative to invest in developing new technologies to help the human kind evolve.

Stuart Russel states that the problem with robots is not their consciousness, but their competences. Sometimes when creating a machine people forget that when you build an incredibly competent robot at achieving its objectives, it will do anything to accomplish them, no matter if this implies causing an accident.

It’s important to develop technology that has the role to protect human lives and to support people in their actions.

People are afraid of the Uncanny Valley

It looks like human-like robots are the ones that generate the greatest fear among people. The perception gained the name Uncanny Valley and it describes the situation when people feel uncomfortable with the human-like traits of robots. They are not experiencing fear of robots, but fear of the robots that look like humans, the ones that are able to mimic a person.

It’s not fully understood what makes people feel repulsion towards the human-like robots, but it’s definitely something they will get used to. It’s the normal evolution of the human kind if they are exposed a long period to a certain stimulus they get accustomed to it and consider it their new reality.

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