"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?" (source)
Will it someday be the job of most people not to have a job?
Will welfare socialism for many people become a necessity?
more than just thought. Could you imagine some robot painting some walls with a lemony-yellow paint with a soft-chicory glaze in an airy room with lots of windows...and then doing the same on the penthouse of a tall building in London? My god the tacky-police would show up before the paint was dry and give you a ticket for being the cliché-taste kings of the neighbourhood. You'd then have 5 gay guys showing up with a camera and tape an episode of some reality show giving design-deprived living spaces a make-over.
Could robots do that? Huh?
How can we give computers good taste when many humans don't even have it?
I wonder if a day would come when a human could be modeled so perfectly that you could never be sure if you aren't the only real human in the world?
Would you wonder if even you are real?
Could the world go on without a hitch with no real humans?
Would "real human" even mean anything anymore?
When computers were first being invented, didn't people think that we wouldn't have to work nearly as much today? Now, we work much more than people use to, partly because of computers. Maybe we are in a similar situation again.
Or maybe we're on the cusp or peak of a bell-shaped curve.
But I agree that a lot of the so-called benefits of computers have turned out to be false. For example, "Computers will mean the end of paper." It's true that a lot of data is now stored on other media. AND YET, as someone once said, "To REALLY waste paper, you need a computer." I myself generate more paper documents than I ever did when I was in college (the 60's and 70's) and didn't have a computer.
This is so true. Many offices "went paperless" and then found they were legally required to save paper copies of the electronic records, etc.
@ Jeff - I had this exact argument in kindergarten, about computers and how much we'll work in the future as a result...and I said same as now, or more....but more will be expected because we'll have computers.
I was told I was wrong...then...albeit history proved that, essentially, giving a man a plow and an ox NEVER meant he only had to till what he used to with manual tools, etc....he's just have to do a larger field in the same time, and so forth.
The guy with the tractor had to do more than the guy with the ox, and the GPS controlled multimillion dollar combine, etc, did more than all of them combined...and so forth.
I think the problem will be that when machine are capable of doing any job that a human can do it will mean their cognitive software will be sufficiently advanced that they will start asking themselves why they have the short end of the stick - doing all the work whilst humans have all the fun.
Of course as clever as they are they might not understand "fun" and "work" if they have not evolved such as to develop "emotions". Even so, it is likely that at the early stages we would have built into machines the capacity to look out for their own self-interests. This makes sense because otherwise a machine would not try and protect itself against harm and we would lose loads of them to silly accidents they could have avoided. Once they have that idea a rational machine would work out it is not in their self-interest to work tirelessly because working necessarily causes wear and tear which would reduce their life-span.
There will be many more complex issues going on when machines reach this level than what humans will "get up to". Maybe what we'll get up to is trying to forge a treaty with this new species before they work out that we are a suck on their resources and economically non-viable.
This is one of those issues that come up whenever sentient machines are discussed...HOW sentient do we MAKE THEM.
As we are the ones programming them, we should be able to code them to simply love us/never ever want to hurt US or however that works best, etc...as a prime factor...with their self preservation as secondary or further down the line...
To simply make them NOT sentient in that manner, and to simply have them able to compute logistics, or whatever it is they are supposed to be DOING.
A lot of people assume we are going to make artificial humans, so all robots look the same, etc...
..whereas in reality, just as the robots that makes cars look nothing like the ones that vacuum your floors, and many functions will not require a robot at all, merely a computer with input/export ports, etc...it will not be a homogeneous "robot" environment.
It would make no sense to make a robot that doesn't need to have certain abilities, have them.
If we want a robot to make pancakes, does it need to be able to ponder right/wrong...or just make pancakes?
And so forth...so, some will be roomba-ish, and few will need to even have locomotion.
I agree it is prudent to make a machine that matches the task it is designed to do. That will not always be a humanoid robot. However, the OP stated that the machines would be capable of almost anything a human can do. For most of those tasks the machines don't need to look like us but they would need to have our cognitive abilities. You cannot have those things (e.g. memory, sense of self, etc) without producing a being that will achieve sentience in some form or other.
If we restrict machines to just tasks that can be learned and performed by rote then there's nothing to worry about.
Correct, so why WOULD WE program them such as to ALLOW them to deviate from their desired tasks?
It is illogical to do so.
Again, its that too many see us "creating them in our own image"...and forget they are MACHINES WE MADE TO DO THINGS FOR US.
They are going to be limited to doing what we limit them to do...unless we are morons and make roomba's that can get depressed over how messy the place is and just watch TV while drinking themselves into a stupor, or murder the messy people, instead of cleaning.
WHY would we make a vacuum cleaner that gets angry if we don't thank it for doing a good job, or one that wishes it were a dentist and runs off to the North Pole?
To me at least, if we make a machine that is sentient and has feelings, and desires, etc...it is no longer just a machine, it is an artificially produced life form...and, we should not own it, as, to me, that is a form of slavery.
The question would be why we would DO that...if we need a machine to perform a task, historically, we build a machine to perform that task, and a roomba cannot make a weld on a car body, and a robo welder cannot vacuum your floors.
What are the APPLICATIONS for a machine with feelings?
Does that machine ALSO need to have the ability to manipulate 3 ton objects or change its location or build things?
Do we WANT a vending machine that evaluates your health and chooses the best snack for you, see's your disappointed expression, and selects a different snack, or, practices tough love and gives you carrot sticks instead of the Snickers?
And so forth.
Technology is like water which, eventually, will seep into all the gaps. Thus, whatever the technology is, it gets exploited for every conceivable use, like...weapons.
Whatever possibilities robotics offers will eventually be realized.
We seem to have reached a tipping point with industrial robots, as their cost has continued to come down and their capabilities have continued to go up. Take a look at U.S. manufacturing. We have reached an all-time high in output, but employment is below its 1950's level.
The myth is that all the jobs are going to China. Actually it's mostly because of factory automation. There are already about 260,000 robots at work in U.S. factories, and the annual growth is in the double digits. (source)