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Ivan Kirigin's views on Robotics & Culture: future. perfect. progress.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Hardtalk | Robot risk 'is worth it'

BBC interviews Rodney Brooks two years ago, and makes the interview available online to watch.

I was shocked by how aggressive the interviewer is in her questioning. I suppose that's her shtick, but I haven't seen other additions of 'Hardtalk' to know for sure.

Brooks tries again and again to bring up the interesting parts about our future: humans getting robotic replacement parts, the meaning of emotion and consciousness, the potential for exponential growth in the aggregate world intelligence. The interviewer continuously brings back doom-and-gloom scenarios like something out of '2001' or 'The Matrix', trivializing the ideas and excluding what could have been an interesting discussion.

This whole discussion brings to mind the difficult task of convincing people that the robots are not a threat, and that they should be embraced for the potential improvement they could bring to our lives. To their credit, most people haven't been given a realistic scenario for a smooth transition from now to an era with ubiquitous robotic laborers, or the next step to artificial thinkers.

Marshall Brain spends a great deal of time trying to tell people that the transition will not be smooth. I think he fails to recognize the decreasing cost of education with intelligent software that is associated with the advent of semi-intelligent robotic laborers. A more rapidly education populace will, by necessity, offset the elimination of unskilled human labor.

Given the lagging nature of hardware compared to software, I think this is certainly the case.


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