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Visions of the Future

Robots, are they created or born? I believe they are incredible creations
born from the imaginings in science fiction. They are now reality and a
part of our lives, in our living rooms doing the vacuuming such as
Roomba. The robotic orange machines on wheels are now in Amazon
warehouses, stocking shelves and scanning products. Once unthinkable,
they are now reality and could surpass humans in strength and ability.
Robots are indeed clever imitators of life but can they be trusted? Can
they show mercy? Do they have a soul? Are they capable of independent
thought? I feel their ability might only be limited by us, humans. As the
science fiction author, Christian Cantrell, once said, Its not technology
that limits us. Were the limitation. Our technology is an expression of our
intelligence and creativity.
In I, Robot the main issue was that robots were creating robots, which
could lead to dehumanisation and for me, I question what it might mean
to be a human in technologys future. If being a human is to feel, see,
touch, hear and taste, then to be human is to have electrical signals being
sent from our body to our brain. How then are humans different from
robots who also use their electrical signals to interact and communicate?
Sonny was a robot and yet able to express the human quality of emotion
through gestures and intonation of voice. So what differentiates us from
them? What do we have that they do not? What happens when they start
to surpass us? Will they help us, just like Spooners mothers personal
robot, or will they harm us through control just as VICKI did in the movie?

When Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield who is an


expert on robotics, discusses the future of robots, mixed thoughts of hope
and doubt are seeded into my mind. He parallels man and robot and
states that a differentiation between the two will become unlikely and
even impossible. I am fearful when he states that, robots couldnt
determine the difference between a civilian and a combatant or civilian
property and combatants. His fear of the future and what is happening in
the present leads him to state that humans will not always control the
robots when robots kill a human, it just says appropriate levels of
judgement will always be used, and of course appropriate levels could
mean none.
Robots, are they to be feared or revered? Are robots able to evolve into
more complicated sentinel beings? I can foresee that through the potential
of robotic evolution, the fear of them dominating us is certainly a possible
reality. My mind boggles as I reflect on this possibility of life with dominant
robots and subservient slaved humans. This could be the end of the
human race.
On the other hand, I have a positive outlook for the future of robots
coexisting with man. I see robots reaching the unreachable and making
the impossible, possible. They could hold the key to unlock the door to a
brighter future for the physically handicapped in society. Also I envisage
robots being used constructively in the field of medicine and science.
Brain surgery performed by robotic precision could hopefully increase a
patients chance of survival. In science they can be used as experimental

objects for space exploration and can go into dangerous situations such as
the Fukushima radioactive meltdown, thus accomplishing greatness
without human loss. ASIMO, HUBO and the other robots are already
examples of the expansion of scientific technology. They most definitely
carry the potential for immortality, and for me it sounds crazy, frightening,
immoral and totally impossible to even believe.
If personal humanoid robots become mainstream, my concern is that they
will outsource human tasks. Are we getting robots to only do menial jobs
to free our minds or are we getting lazy and not tapping into our full
potential? This could have positive and negative repercussions. Humans
could be freed up for more rewarding work or would they become couch
potatoes and suffer from lack of physical, mental and social activity? I
believe that the danger of the past was that man enslaved man but the
danger of the future could be that man will be enslaved by robots.
In my opinion, as robots become more like humans, humans will become
more like robots and in the end, when they coexist, maybe robots will
become more human than humans themselves. According to the father of
all robots, Isaac Asimov, you just cant differentiate between a robot
and the very best of humans. Can you?