Robots, Technology, Automation, etc. have existed since the last century; but they got smarter, relevant and widely used across most industries in the current decade. The number of movies on robots & artificial intelligence are increasing every year as the imagination of filmmakers run wild. Most of them recently have focused on the challenges Smarter Robots may create in the future, and are genuine possible concerns.
Robots 1.0 – Automation and part Intelligence
Robots have picked up automation work for quite some time now, including, robotic vacuum cleaners (millions of them out there), tele-marketing software, algorithms that make financial trading decisions, health diagnosis software, automated manufacturing lines in the factories, fully automated restaurants, etc. have already become a reality. These automations have been proven commercially viable and efficient in grand scheme of things. Generally they work in conjunction with Humans involved somewhere in the workflow. They have also lead to some issues / errors like
– Assembly line robot killing a human http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/02/europe/germany-volkswagen-robot-kills-worker/
-Trading crashes in corner case scenarios where algos did not have a specific instruction or there were are unintentional consequences
Most such issues are addressable, and certainly highlight the importance of strong and multiple levels of validation and testing of the robotic functions before releasing them in production. This phase of Robots is all around us and is likely to challenge humans doing average repeatable jobs. Like Industrial Revolution in the previous century, they will certainly push the humans to upgrade their skills to stay relevant.
Robots 2.0 – Artificial Intelligence
So far, Robots used across industries had not been super-intelligent. With the inception of Artificial Intelligence among them, they are becoming smarter and can be more constructive. For example, Self Driving Cars lead to fewer accidents; Facial recognition techniques ensure security, using Robots in Bomb diffusions, Space exploration, can preserve Human Lives (which were typically otherwise compromised), etc. Robots may not have imagination, creativity or a heart to feel emotions, yet. If and once they get it, intelligent robots with feelings may become superior to humans. This may lead to a debate on the role of humans in a society where robots can do more, faster, efficiently, and rationally. This is what all the great leaders (including Bill Gates and Elon Musk) today fear.
Robots 3.0 – Unpredictable Breakthroughs
This is the scariest of all robotic evolution stages. What if Robots can learn to make themselves infinitely smarter and over take the human species? Movies like Her and Ex-Machina show some scary and sad scenarios. Time and Time again, we have seen that the technological evolutions have been disruptive and unpredictable. I think it’s hard for anyone to predict where the robotic and artificial intelligence evolution may go. One potential good outcome maybe that Humans merge with Robots by artificial automation inserted into their bodies. Such human-robotic collaboration maybe the new and stronger species we may eventually get comfortable with, and need to survive the future spatial challenges.