Will robots ever take over the world?
The real question is: How will robots take over the world?
1. They tuk er jerbs!
Robots will probably replace human workers in many fields. It’s a simple fact, and not just in manufacturing.
The automation of rote tasks and services — such as ATMs, self-checkout lanes, and even research and information gathering — has caused many to lose their jobs. This automation will only continue, and it’s not difficult to imagine a future in which humans don’t really have to do much of anything.
Robots can cook for us. Robots can do all the heavy lifting, take care of the lawn, bring in the paper every morning. They’ll even be able to scan the media and deliver exactly what we’d like to see without our having to search for it (oh wait they can already do that). What’s the end result of this?
On one hand, you could say it’ll give humans the opportunity to do things they truly want to do. On the other, this pampering by robots and software could turn us into degenerate, fat, immobile blob people. Like in Wall-E.
At that point, it won’t matter if the robots are intelligent, sentient beings or not; they’ll have already conquered humanity. Peacefully.
2. Nanobot Plague
You think regular, biological plagues are bad?
Just imagine if they were sentient. A hive-mind. A microscopic network of self-replicating robots eating its way through our planet and, who knows, the entire solar system. The Earth, and everything on it, would become a giant bowl of nanobot soup. And believe me, it probably wouldn’t taste very good. Sound farfetched?
It’s called the “grey goo,” and scientists agree it’s theoretically possible.
3. Human-like Intelligence & The Need To Conquer
We’ve all seen The Terminator. We know how it could go down.
I’m not convinced our current technology will ever turn against us; it’s unlikely our iPhones will be suicide-bombing our pockets any time soon. Our constant march of technological progress, however, leaves open the possibility that one day, we will create a machine capable of human-like intelligence. And when that day comes, I’m not sure we’ll be ready for it. Humans themselves are a, let’s be honest, nasty bunch. They pretty much take what they want and, if something is in their way, they pave over it and build a parking lot. It’s how we roll.
Why should we expect sentient machines to be any different?
They’d be stronger. They’d certainly live longer. And they’d probably see us as a meaningless obstacle to be destroyed. What’s more, Stephen Hawking himself thinks humans should be preparing for the inevitable. In 2001, he warned about the need for genetic modification, to “keep ahead of advances in computer technology and stop intelligent machines from ‘taking over the world.'”
He’s also in favor of computer-human integration, but that comes with its own set of problems…
4. Cyborg Assimilation
One theory that’s gained traction in recent years is that Homo-sapiens did not kill off the Neanderthals. Instead, research suggests the two species intermingled, and combined, at least somewhat, into who we are today.
Now consider the future of technology. Biotic implants, robotic limbs. Nanobots that heal your cells, chips that expand your knowledge. The lines between human and robot will blur to create a new race of Cyborgs. It may even one day be possible to “transfer” (or copy) your consciousness into computer software.
In that case, robots won’t need to take over the world. But the process will create a divide between those willing to assimilate, and those wanting to remain natural humans.
We can only guess at what sort of conflicts that will cause.
5. They’ve already won
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re Snake Plissken at the end of Escape From L.A.
You’re holding a device which, with the press of a button, could plunge the entire world back into the Stone-Age.
What would happen if you pressed it?
We’re very reliant on technology these days. Robots do a lot of our work for us. We have countless devices and machines to help us in our everyday lives. And the biggest technological advancement of our day — the Internet — gives us instantaneous access to nearly unlimited information. What if it all vanished?
It’s not that we wouldn’t survive, but look at the world around you — 24/7 media, Facebook, video games. Hospitals that rely on technology. Nuclear power plants. Refrigeration. All the information stored on computers. The world as we know it would cease to function. Most of us wouldn’t know how to cope. It would be, at least to begin with, something like chaos.
Heck, even during this month’s online blackout of Wikipedia, students complained about not being able to finish their homework.
Just as well, how much of the information we use do we actually know, and how much do we simply look up on the Internet?
We’re becoming slaves to our machines. But not in a robot-apocalypse sort of way. As technology improves and human-like robots become a reality, we’ll only become more reliant on technology, as seen in point #1 of this list.
But as it stands? They may have already won.