Saturday, March 14, 2009

Should robots replace humans?

Should robots replace humans? As technology advances, robots could be made to look better, work harder and more efficiently and get along better than we humans do. When a robot has a problem, it can be repaired Humans, other other hand are not so easily maintained. They eventually expire and their performance and appearance both deteriorate over time.

Assuming that robotic consciousness could be advanced to a level that rivals humans', certain issues that plague humans would be rendered non-issues. Humans tend to freak out when they see that the image in the mirror doesn't measure up when compared to the 20-sweep photoshopped image they see on the cover of a magazine. With regular - daily? - automated maintenance, robots could look great all the time.

Other human weaknesses could be programmed out. Jealousy, laziness, anger, greed, lust, hatred, despair and any others would simply not be included in the robots' operating systems.

Naturally, robots shouldn't replace humans all at once. Rather, they could be phased in. Human disadvantages and even strengths could actually be utilized to advance this transformation. Robot models could be introduced on the catwalks with the goal of beating out their human counterparts. Unlike human models, the robots could be "photoshopped" in real life. They would be built and maintained to present the archetypal image of human beauty, better than any human ever could, especially over time. In other workplaces, robots could be built and programmed to replace humans in a process of attrition. Every human would be repalced by a robot (likely fewer robots would be needed than humans) as the humans retire or die. Whether the job be mechanic, athlete or jazz musician, in time there would be not need for humans in the global economy.

Human fears about being phased out of existence needn't be a concern. The last phase of human existence would be rendered more pleasant than any previous period in the human epoch. Robots would systematically clean up the mess humans have made of the planet. They would sort out world peace, renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, education, health care, government, corporate management, what have you. They would always do their best and they would never make mistakes.

The human phase-out could be achieved easliy as all remaining humans could be matched with the optimal robot partners and spouses who would attend to every human need in ways that no humans could. If children were disired, then perfect - perfectly behaved - robot children could be painlessly produced. After a while, human beings would vanish into blissful non-existence.

As for the human legacy, that could be carried out by robots in such manner that would make the human spirit swell with pride. Robots would pursue technical, artistic, even athletic achievement with more determination, perseverence and alacrity than their human forerunners could dream of. Robot astronauts could fly out into the heavans, build space stations and colonies on distant worlds, all in the name of the great humans that came before them. The Earth itself would be restored as a veritible garden of eden, an impeccably managed ecosystem free of human contanimation.

This vision of the future may well represent an inevitability. But I suspect not. Robots will most very likely replace human beings. But the kind of robots and the kind of world they inhabit and govern will depend on the actions of humans today. If we humans truely want the best world possible for our robot successors, we need to play an active role in our own replacement. A simple, yet comprehensive plan should be drawn up. As stated, robots should be introduced into human society unobtrusively in phases. And each robot needs to be designed, built and maintained to be better than the human it is intended to replace, both in terms of performance and ethics. If this approach is taken, the human contribution can be made in a way that oustrips that which we feeble organic creatures currently make on our own. As the mythical Titans were to the Gods, and the Gods to us Humans, we can indeed parent a better race to take over where we leave off.