The future of robotics is an important topic for everyone to consider. When I write a post, I only have space to make a few comments on a subject. My hope is always that readers will think about their own opinions on whatever I write. It is even better when you share.
I am excited by the responses to my post on the spiritual aspects of robotics. There are pros and cons to the robotics revolution that are better addressed sooner rather than later. One reader, Teresa Cribelli, wrote of her concerns, which I also believe hit the mark.
Notes from Teresa
I have been thinking a lot about the topic of your last blog post. I have kept up on some of the conversations about AI (artificial intelligence) and what some say is a coming robot revolution that will result in mass unemployment of people. It reminds me of an essay I read by science fiction writer, Robert Anton Wilson, where he envisioned robots relieving people of drudgery so they would have more time to create, to spend time with family, to philosophize, etc. He saw technology as a way to liberate the human experience so no one had to be a slave in field or factory.
We could argue that this has happened in many ways, though some of the new robots will be in professions we think of as idiosyncratic and only doable by humans: lawyers, doctors, and artists. My feeling is that some of the AI being developed right now is more about minimizing costs (humans are expensive to employ!) than about freeing humans from drudge work.
There are also other angles to consider, for example, some people are saying we will need to impose taxes on machinery. Whereas the income of human laborers is taxed, machine labor is not. So, tax streams will diminish too as more people are replaced with machines.
I would love to see our society not work so hard and have more time to meditate, pursue hobbies, and connect with our fellow human beings. Yet it doesn’t feel like the vision behind some of the new technology is coming from this energy. I would like to see the economy supporting us, but it feels like AI is about us supporting, or being left out of, the economy. We shall see where we go with this.
Robotics and our Future
After trading some letters, Teresa added, “I too feel that the AI and robot revolution is not coming from the highest place. Not everything that can be done, should be done. It doesn’t feel like peoples’ interest and well-being is at the heart of a great many of these technological developments. I will have to think of a way to incorporate this conversation into my teaching.”
How robotics will affect our future depends on the level of consciousness of those financing, developing, and using the technology. Just because something can be done does not mean it should be done. With advanced technology, who profits and who is left out? Who moves forward and who gets left behind? What are the long-term effects of our choices?
Once again, we come back to, it’s not the what, it’s the why. Can we use what we are learning and developing for the highest good of all? Can we develop systems and protocols that will benefit everyone? The answers are obviously, yes. The real question is, will we use robotics and other technologies to create a better world? Will we create a better life for everyone on the planet or create more separation? What questions are you asking yourself, your children, your friends, and your associates? As Teresa said, “We shall see where we go with this.”