The iCub is the humanoid robot developed at IIT as part of the EU project RobotCub and subsequently adopted by more than 20 laboratories worldwide. It has 53 motors that move the head, arms, hands, waist, and legs, using accelerometers and gyroscopes. It can see and hear; and it has the sense of proprioception (body configuration). The main goal is to study cognition through the implementation of a humanoid robot the size of a three-year-old child. (Source: icub.org)
This is the ultimate "Pandora's Box" question... For while nuclear tech could be used to wipe out human kind, this tech has a very real possibility of deciding to wipe out human kind. And we will have given robots the ability to do so if/when it happens.
It is of course also possible that we will find a way to contain their self-awareness and will... Indefinitely?
Or they may leap so far ahead of us quickly enough that we become just a minor irritation before they finish the job of exterminating all the nooks-n-crannies of humans; we may yet survive.
If they step out and demand equality/superiority how we react may determine our fate. Turning them all off in the nick-of-time could do it, or trying to do so and failing could seal the deal... "Sterilize"
In any case the scenario is likely to play out sometime during this century. How many horse and buggies do you see lately? How many large jets...? 100 years progress2 coming our way... and we need to choose wisely.
You obviously are not aware of the amount of control automation already has in your every day life -- everything from your automobile to the automated doors you walk through thousands of times a year. We accept Windows failures, although I do not think we should, because they are not life threatening. As we have throughout history, engineers work to harness new technology to improve our lives while managing the risks that the new technologies introduce.
There is a very real danger approaching with robots, and it is not the problem of their becoming self-aware. The real danger is in the software. Consider how many times some allegedly stable version of "windows" goes stupid on us and heads off to do things totally diferent from what we asked for. Fortunately for us our standard robots communicate and act through screen and printer. Now consider the same sort of failure, but with a robot that can move much faster than us and is much stronger. What do we do when the software on that creature goes-stupid? That is the biggest threat that I can see coming up in the future. Just consider how the microsoft products function and you will understand the reality of the threat.
The company I work for is in the robot business (never mind the details - involves cleaning jobs). There are some markets - especially in Asia - where we can't penetrate because human labour is simply cheaper, and abundant (and can probably do the job faster and more efficiently). There is a social factor, thought, (in developed countries), for customers to advertise "I've got a high-tech robot" rather than "I exploit cheap/migrant labour"
I suspect that eventually the supply of cheap labor will fall, unless we keep the current politicians in office who maintain the open borders. You have touched on the real reason for robots in our future, although we more p.c. refer to them as "automation." At some point, as they found in the automobile and other heavy industries, there is an economic justification for all the nays I have given to robots. Agriculture is a good example. Massive fields, delicate crops, tough deadlines, and labor unrest are great reasons for engineers to pursue solving these probems.
I wonder, can I insult a robot? Will I eventually have to respect their human rights? Will I have to create robots of color and give them preference? Who is John Galt?
You gents are in the USA and news from (South) Africa either does not hit your headlines or you don't take note of happenings out here!
Industry and Agriculture is being held ransom for pay hikes up to 600% purely "workers" have gotten into their heads that they have a right to it.
To date, manual labour has been used as, 1) it is available in abundance (II must lie if I claim this to be correct but a number such as 30%+ unemployment is putting it mildly!) 2) it has been cheap to recently, etc.
Furthermore, Industry and Agriculture, apart from making economic sense have the axe of being "Nationalised" and/or Farms being reallocated without due compensation.
Farm salaries have been calmed to be re- addressed in the new year but in all of these sites, "automation" is back in the forefront of the owner's mind.
I suggest you Google around a bit to get a feel of what is going on over here - might happen over there by you as well at some stage!
Key Words to search on: "Marikana" and "de Doorns"
SA Unemplyment: http://www.iol.co.za/business/business-news/sa-unemployment-gets-worse-1.1414454#.UNHWRW_FV8E
Again we look for for the p.c. crap. We hire millions of Mexicans a day in this country for all sorts of tasks. Me saying the obvious is not wrong. It is the truth. So there is no humanitarian concern. There is no human rights violation. The is only the fact that we hire Mexicans to do the very jobs we talk about using robots for. And we don't have a learning curve, an upfront capital expense, there is only one potential programming language to learn (and maybe we don't even have to learn theirs), and we don't have to store them when not in use, etc., etc., etc. it's a fact, Jack.
So I'm just saying, available cheap human labor beats most robot jobs, and this removes the need for robots in our homes and personal lives. That's all.
Warren, robots have only one language, which is used for programming it. So anybody from any corner of the world can use it, but we cannot use Mexicans like that and it may come under the preview of human rights violation. They are not robots or slaves, so humanitarian concern is an important factor.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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