Can a robot replace a human?

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The economic crisis, the proliferation of nuclear technology in “rogue” nations, global warming … these are all on the list of things to make us want to retreat to the bed and stick our heads under the pillow.

Now there is another item on that list — scientists’ concerns that machines may outsmart humans. Yep, that’s the worry, artificial intelligence replacing the regular kind of intelligence or lack thereof.

In fact, scientists held a private meeting to discuss limiting the development of artificial intelligence. They see the potential for “artificial intelligence systems running amok.”

Or, fiction coming to life as a paragraph in the story I read described.

“The idea of an “intelligence explosion” in which smart machines would design even more intelligent machines was proposed by the mathematician I. J. Good in 1965. Later, in lectures and science fiction novels, the computer scientist Vernor Vinge popularized the notion of a moment when humans will create smarter-than-human machines, causing such rapid change that the ‘human era will be ended.’”

Well, why would that be a concern? Humans don’t have problems with intelligence that isn’t artificial running amok do they?…

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence organized the conference and plans to release a report from that meeting. According to the story, “The A.A.A.I. report will try to assess the possibility of ‘the loss of human control of computer-based intelligences.’ It will also grapple with socioeconomic, legal and ethical issues, as well as probable changes in human-computer relationships.”

I’m not sure what might happen if there is a loss of human control, but it doesn’t sound like a good thing. And I don’t want a relationship with my computer other than I turn it on and it works. I do not want it telling me stuff I should do or advising me or becoming my BFF (Best Friend Forever).

One of the research guys said he is confident artificial intelligence can benefit mankind and “compensate for human failings.” We need machines to compensate for human failings. We can’t compensate using the common sense the good Lord gave us?

It seems we look for things we already have but are too blind to recognize; so we invent machines to help us see what is sitting under our collective noses.

For example, a scientist described a voice-based system used for medical purposes as one of the benefits artificial intelligence might provide. The system has the ability to listen to patients and then respond with empathy to their concerns.

In the story, a physician said this is a wonderful idea because he doesn’t have time to respond to his patients.

Again, what are we thinking folks? Are we so busy, so caught up in the world we need a non-human, chunk of stuff to respond to us when we are in pain, or lonely or sad and need a kind word? We have the ability to provide empathy without technology. What we need is to use the ability the creator gave us to care about each other instead of relying on something artificial.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m for technological advancement. Technology helps in many ways, but I think it is important to have a sense of our connection to each other, that we are in this together with or without artificial intelligence.

And the realization of our oneness is something no machine, no matter how smart it is, can give us.

Anyway, I refuse to add this to the worry list. I’ll just let nature take its course while I hop into bed and enjoy a nice long nap with my head under my pillow.