I read an article yesterday discussing the possibility of granting human rights to robots once artificial intelligence is sufficiently advanced. The article mentioned society getting closer to the kind of thing Asimov wrote about. Personally, I don't think we'll ever create an autonomous robot that is capable of human behavior to a degree that we will consider it sentient. But that's just me.

Have you ever noticed how much society falls short of technological predictions? 20 years ago the world was convinced that by the year 2000 we'd all be cruising around in flying cars. In the late 80s and early 90s we were worried that virtual reality would supersede the real world and we'd all end up living out our lives plugged into VR machines.

There are a couple of books by Raymond Kurzweil detailing what he calls the Singularity, or the point at which technological advances happen at a geometric rate, transforming society as we know it. I read the Age of Spiritual Machines, in which he gives detailed predictions about what the future will hold at given points of time. It's a fascinating book, and I enjoyed the optimism he displays. The problem is that the time has elapsed for some of his earlier predictions, and virtually none of them have come true.

I don't think that such advances are impossible. I just think we're all so busy fighting each other that we severely stunt our growth as a society and a species. In another book, Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clark gives us a glimpse of what could happen if we stopped trying to kill each other and worked together.

This wasn't really where I intended to go with this post. But once I started, my mind just went off in its own direction. I'd like to see a robot do that.


trb48 said...

The funny thing about computers is this: they do exactly what we tell them to. Most parents and employers probably wish more people were like computers.