Robot Uprising refers to a movement where robots rise above us as our superiors. The term refers to a phenomenon that will allow robots to take over what is currently known as human civilization.
In the case of a robot uprising, we can predict that these machines will be our intellectual superiors and dominate significant aspects of the civilized society such as – production, distribution, healthcare, and even administration.
In ‘I, Robot,’ Isaac Asimov said that we couldn’t differentiate between a robot and the best of humans.
Isaac Asimov, a renowned science fiction author, best known for his work in the robot series collected in ‘I, Robot,’ first introduced the three laws of robotics.
The first law stated that no robot should bring any harm or injury to human beings; the second law was that a robot shall always have to obey the command of a human being as long as it does not violate the first law. The third law stated that robots could act for self-defense or self-preservation as long as it does not violate the first two laws.
Asimov, in his works, propagated the idea of robots as creatures subservient to human beings. He imagined that the correct programming rules would be all it would take to render a robot unthreatening.
However, it has been close to 80 years since the first publication of his book came out, and technology has advanced significantly within this time.
The field of robotics and AI has advanced into the industry of household appliances, food production, defense and military, advanced healthcare, and much more. We are at a point where we must ponder whether Asimov’s three laws need to be updated.
While the idea of a robot vacuum cleaner may not be threatening, the idea of a robot trained for spying or flinging bombs and handling ammunition does bring a certain number of risks.
Making robots out of DNA and proteins used in surgery or to correct genetic disorders in humans is quite fascinating and plausible. However, to appropriately respond to signals programmed in the DNA, the robot parts must integrally fuse with the human it is implanted into. It raises an important question – should these humans fused with robot DNA be expected to follow the 3 laws of robotics?
Thus, as the field of robotics progresses with time to help humanity, several risk factors may render them a threat in the future.
However, science cannot stop, and neither has the advancement in robotics. Many renowned institutes respect the laws put forth by Asimov and try to advance their technology while staying within the bounds of the three laws. In the year 2007, the South Korean government even proposed a Robotics Ethics Charter to reflect upon the three laws given by Asimov.
Progress Made in the Field of AI and Robotics
Before we ponder the possibilities of a robot revolution or uprising, we must look at the impeccable progress made in robotics. The two countries that especially stand out are Japan and South Korea. However, the EU is not too far behind.
Europe, as a continent, has made significant strides in the field of industrial robotics and held as much as 32% shares of its supply and use in the year 2019. Europe has also proved its excellence in the interdisciplinary research to create ‘intelligent robots.’
The majority of robots or robotic products in today’s market are employed in the manufacturing industry, such as – the automobile industry, aerospace, electronics, or even healthcare. Robots are already becoming such an indispensable part of our everyday society that Robo Global had predicted that the installed base of the total number of factory robots would exceed 3.2 million by the year 2022.
Another factor that has helped accelerate advancement in robotics is the fact that they are unaffected by the supply chain. While lots of industries suffer due to anomalies in the supply chain, scientists, over the years, have been slowly integrating robotics into their regular practices, which gives the field of robotics a competitive edge in the supply chain.
The use of collaborative robots has also been a rising trend. Collaborative robots were almost an instant hit due to the plethora of advantages. They are the safest method for humans and robots to collaborate to complete specific tasks.
To date, 4 different kinds of collaborative robots have been invented – Safety Monitored Stop (involves minimal interaction between human and robot), Speed and Separation (used to leverage industrial robots), Power and Force Limiting (come with rounded edges are engineered to stop functioning the moment it comes in contact with humans), and Hand Guiding (allows a human operator to control the motion of the robot directly).
The electronics and automobile industries are some of the biggest employers of robot technology. The use of robots has become so popular in these industries because it creates a more significant profit margin when compared to employing human beings instead. Car companies often require robotic help for assembling the various parts of a car.
Some Examples of Breathtaking Robotic Innovations Around the World
Worker Robots by Google
Google has announced that they will create intelligent robots who will be able to have personalities of their own. These robots can download their specific personalities from the cloud. They have even earned a patent for their innovative approach to the field of robotics.
2. The Humanoid Robot Atlas, by Boston Dynamics
This humanoid robot is a true marvel standing at 1.5 meters tall and weighing 75 grams. The scientists behind its creation have pointed out that this magnificent creature has a mind of its own governed by the laws of nature and physics. It can run on complicated terrain and detect and avoid obstacles in its path without breaking pace.
3. The UR3 Arm
Universal Robots came up with a nifty little invention called the UR3 arm that is highly intelligent and capable of multitasking. This robot arm can build its replacement parts on its own. It also performs multiple tasks such as – soldering, painting, and grasping.
4. Da Vinci Single-Port Surgical System
An innovation of the company Intuitive Surgical, the Da Vinci Single-Port Surgical System, has helped in the rapid advancement of the healthcare industry, especially in surgeries. With the help of this technology, surgeons can now control three surgical instruments together with an endoscope. This technology helps treat deep-seated damage to tissues or organs.
5. The Saul Robot
Another fantastic innovation in medicine and healthcare, the Saul Robot, was built to battle diseases like the deadly Ebola virus. This robot is often employed in quarantine rooms to prevent any risk of infection. It weakens and kills deadly viruses with the help of its powerful ultraviolet rays.
6. Sony’s Aibo
Sony’s Aibo is a small toy dog introduced to the world over two decades ago. However, in 2019, they relaunched it with enhanced understanding and improved functionality. The most exciting aspect of this high-tech robot is that it can sense and understand its surroundings with excellent accuracy without the help of any pre-scripted programs.
It is another humanoid robot and comes equipped with advanced sensibility. It can detect the human’s mood around it and then adjust its behavior accordingly. This robot has multidirectional microphones to detect surrounding sound and responds to situations naturally and organically.
Arguments For and Against a Future Robot Uprising
- According to a release by MIT Technology Review in 2018, robots have not advanced as much as AI has, and this is one major factor behind them not being a threat yet. However, this can soon change as more advanced AI gets programmed into robots. It might lead to a revolution in the field of robotics.
- Advanced AI will allow the robots to use visual recognition and speech and even navigate their way around the real world. As is known, Artificial Intelligence only gets smarter as it feeds on more and more data, and therefore so will the metal vessels that carry them, i.e., the robots.
- In an article predicting the advancements that we may see in AI and Robotics by 2025, many noted experts have commented that AI will soon reach such a stage that it will be seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives. They predict that this advanced technology will not only be used in business sectors but will also become a part of our personal lives.
- The development of natural language processing will allow individuals to have proper human-like conversations with these machines. The rise of these machines will also affect some of our traditional ways of life, such as agriculture and farming. Thus, they will have a dire impact on the traditional course of human civilization.
- One of the many things that allow humans to control AI and the robots they are installed is the human beings who upload or input the data that help these machines function. However, in a speculative article released by the Scientific American, there are suggestions that we might soon lose this control over the machines if AI keeps advancing.
- They have suggested that, in the future, a brilliant AI may be able to improve its programming multiple times or as many times as it wants to within a tiny time frame. Thus, it is not unlikely that humans may lose control over the machine’s growth and perception of the world around it.
- Robots are also a massive threat to working individuals. Advanced AI may take a while to dominate other aspects of our life. However, the first aspect that they will dominate is the job sector. Multiple Japanese banks already employ robots in their banks, and of course, they are highly employed in the automobile industry. If you work in the arts sector, then it is true that you might be able to hold your job a little longer; however, experts predict that robots can soon takeover that genre of human life as well.
It is true that many scientific papers and articles indeed ponder the possibility of a robot uprising in the distant future. However, they are also skeptical of such a possibility and have made many arguments against it.
- While the professionals at MIT have given AI and the field of robotics due credit for their incredible advancements over the years, they have also expressed skepticism at the fact that there will ever be an uprising. According to them, modern robots, no matter how advanced and precise, still lack many aspects.
- These machines will be daunted in the face of any anomalies not accounted for in their programming. For example, many modern robots will fail to perform their functions properly if moved even slightly from their position.
- Most robots lack the human ability of tactile perception or the complex sense of touch. It is an essential requirement for performing or manipulating complex tasks. No matter how advanced the AI software is, it is still far from as efficient or advanced as the human brain.
- Robots will also never be able to replicate human thought or the concept of human morality. While their programming may allow them to think in a specific way, they will never be able to reach the complexity of the human psyche that has fueled great philosophies and visions, leading to remarkable discoveries and inventions.
- An article by Science Focus points out that emotional intelligence is an integral part of navigating and triumphing over the physical world around us. Robots may be able to model our emotions but will never be able to feel them as we do. Thus, this will always make us superior to these machines.
Thus there are numerous arguments both for and against the idea of a robot uprising. It has been an area of heated debate amongst experts for quite a long while. Since we cannot predict with certainty what the future of technology holds, we cannot come to a concrete conclusion in this debate either. However, we may draw a logical conclusion from modern-day predictions and research.
At the state that AI and the field of robotics are right now, they will indeed find more and more applications in human life and society due to their many uses. However, this technology still has numerous shortcomings, making a robot uprising highly unlikely. We cannot be sure of what the future holds; however, robots taking over human civilization is certainly not one of our primary concerns at the moment.