Should robots replace human workers?

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by thecurly1, Jul 6, 2001.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,024
    Before I start, I have to credit for the main idea of the post to Cris. I was wondering if this is a good idea... A person could purchase a fairly intelligent robot, send it to work for the company that the owner used to work for, while the owner collects all of the money made by the robot. If allowed, robots could begin by trading jobs with humans in assembly line type of jobs, or in manual labor. Later on as robots become more intelligent robots could work side by side with humans, in advertising, accounting, medicine, developing people friendly computers and games.

    People could buy these robots, and have them do their jobs for them. This way after only a few years in the workforce you could purchase an AI robot, for say $40,000 and make it do your job. This would be a worthy investment, because eventually robot technology would be able to make one robot last a lifetime. All money made from the robot would go directly to you, while you don't do any work. People that wanted to work could and couldn't (by law) be replaced by a robot. These laboring robots don't need to be smarter than the average human to preform the humans former work tasks, this way we don't have to worry about having thousand or potentially millions of robot slaves throwing a revolution.

    The owner of the robot would be its primary master, while the employer would be number two. The robot would never even have to leave work, which would reduce traffic a lot. Each human could only own one robot to collect wages, others could be used as maids, or personal assistants. If one person owned five bots, than that would mean a huge loss of jobs, and too much wages would be given to the rich. This way you make sure no one can have more than one job. Anyone that owns a fairly expensive robot wouldn't need more than one job because they would probably be middle class.

    Now that you understand how this could work think of the implications. Where to start? This would be a revolution in civilization akin to when agriculture allowed many people not to grow food so that they could do specialized jobs to help other members of their society. This would be the same, for the first time ever humanity could be freed from working for a living. With a steady source of income that likely wouldn't be endangered with the steady, stable work supply, inflation would be reduced to nearly nothing. No one going to work would mean a lot more free time, which would allow more time with the family and spouse. In a positive view people would give more time to charitable organizations, have the time to better themselves through getting a good education, and pursue a generally more happy, fulfilling life.

    We would have to work out whatever problems come along through legislation, but I think the pros outweigh the cons a lot.

    This would be the closest to utopia that mankind has ever come if this works out. Wow, our inventions could be the key to our salvation. Pretty great if this works. I'll have even more time to spend on the internet!

    I NEED TO HEAR OPPIONONS ON THIS, HOPEFULLY THIS IDEA COMES TO FRUITION IN MY LIFE TIME. THIS WOULD BE AMAZING.
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,235
    thecurly1

    Have you considered that before you would have the chance to buy a robot that could do your job, the 'boss man' would have already replaced you with a robot?

    Sans you ... your job ... and your robot.

    Oh well, keep dreaming.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    Only change is the only thing that never changes.

    Chagur,

    Yes. See my other thread with a similar name. A key component to the economic viability of robot workers will be new laws. I have proposed that only private individuals be allowed to own robots that are capable of replacing humans in the workplace. Corporations would find it illegal for them to own such robots.

    A variation on this would be companies that offer a leasing service. While such companies could purchase robots from the manufacturer they would not be permitted to put them to work. In this case only private individuals would be permitted to lease worker robots.

    My biggest concern is with the rights of the robots themselves and the extent to which they will be self-aware. If we have not programmed them with emotions such as desire or anger then we might be OK. However, even without an emotional desire to be free or independent a robot could simply use its intelligence and purely reason that its slave-like position is unacceptable. I suspect that just pure reasoning will cause a need for self-survival, and that is an inevitable feature of self-awareness and human-like intelligence.

    So although the utopian world that Curly describes might be possible, at most it will only last a few decades. This will be inevitable if AI continues to advance. No matter how many laws are made the fact that robots will have been produced with super-intelligence will mean that the human owner and robot worker paradigm is doomed. These super intelligent beings will find ways to exert their abilities. In chaos theory I believe this is known as a cusp point.

    And here is where we enter that period known as the singularity. Either the new dominant intelligence on the planet is benign to humans or they see humans as a threat and destroy us. If they adopt a benign view and if they continue to grow in greater intelligence then their interest in us as primitively low intelligent beings will eventually fade. Our continued survival as humans will be in serious doubt.

    Our only real hope of long-term survival is to be able to compete on equal status with our own super-intelligent creations. In other words brain augmentation will be needed, but at some point that will be inadequate and full uploading will be the only remaining option.

    Interestingly enough the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) is currently (July 2001) running a series of TV documentaries on these issues and this last conclusion has already been expressed.

    Cris
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,024
    My concern

    If humans were largely replaced by robot workers in the future, we'd have to make sure they couldn't have emotions i.e.- wouldn't rebel against us. If this happened, it would mean a considerable portion of the workforce would go on strike. This would devistate the economy. We should only make robots as smart as they needed to be for their jobs. Leasing could work, but that means you'd have to pay the leasing company money from the robot worker, which means potentially less for me in the long run.

    This is a really good thread, and subject that should have continual debate on. Lets see if we could make this all hypothetically work.

    THANKS FOR REPLYING GUYS.
     
  8. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,024
    Chagur....

    There would be legislation in which if a human wanted to work they could. Humans would be offered jobs before robots. The laws would prevent robots from completely taking over the jobs of humans. Humans would need jobs to keep the supply and demand structure of a free-market economy entact. You couldn't have just companies producing without anyone having income, then the companies wouldn't make money, and you can tell where this is going. The economy factor keeps everything in balance.
     
  9. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,235
    Uncomfortable ...

    I guess what bothers me about the question, 'Should robots replace human workers' and the assumption that 'Robots replace human workers' (I believe that is the thread you referred to Cris) is that robots have already replaced workers, but not the robots that the two of you are taking positions with regard to.

    The general purpose robot, almost human like, which you both seem to be dwelling on is not the kind of robot that has been, or will be, needed as a 'worker'. The GP robot might possibly have use as a household servant, one who performs menial tasks for a family, but not for production/assembly line manufacture. It would be needlessly costly: too many needless functions (ex. mobility).

    Even in extremely hostile environments (ex. space) only a semi-autonomous robot would be required. Again, not a human like GP robot. I really can't think of an application, other than the one mentioned, household servant (and then only because I think humans would feel more comfortable with a 'human like' robot in the house - especially if the household includes children), that would require a GP, 'intelligent', robot.
     
  10. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    Humanoids

    Chagur,

    There are major advantages to building GP humanoid style robots. All aspects of human life have been fitted with facilities, controls, keyboards, tools, doors, machines, etc, etc, that have all been designed around the human form. If we want GP robots to do the same things as us, whether to be our servants, or otherwise, without redesigning and re-tooling the world then these robots must have similar dimensions and abilities as us.

    Also, by producing a single GP style then mass production is simpler and the products will be cheaper than numerous speciality machines. Look at the IBM compatible PC and all its clones. Standards are very powerful and simplify progress.

    Cris
     
  11. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,235
    General Purpose

    Advantages ... maybe. Major advantages ... I doubt it.
    Coming from you Cris, especially considering the many times you seem to denigrate the 'human form', I'm surprised.

    The first thing that immediately came to mind: Keyboards? Why in ... Oh well; I really think an IR port would be more efficient. And besides, I don't think there are too many manual typewriters around (except ones still being used by eccentric [creative?] writers). Or even IBM Selectrics. Controls? Tools? Doors? Machines? Oh come on! I particularly appreciated 'machines' since most are now CNC controlled.

    We've been in the process of 'retooling the world' since at least the start of the Industrial Revolution, so why the concern with a few more minor changes?

    Sorry, can't buy it Cris.
     
  12. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    Humanoid design

    Chagur,

    I know you love to play the cynic, but you seem overly obstinate on this or are being somewhat lazy to think this through. It really isn’t an issue since it is so obvious.

    And ‘typewriters’? What? I didn’t understand where you were going with that line.

    If we reach the position where we coexist with independent mobile intelligent machines then it is very clear that we will need to share the same environment, and that means that such robots will need to have similar appearances and abilities to us. For example how will a 3 foot robot running on wheels with only one arm drive a car? It makes no sense to build special environments just for robots, hell it has been bad enough for us to adapt our environment to help people in wheelchairs.

    How about, flying an aircraft, or helicopter, or playing a piano, do we have to redesign everything because we were so short sighted to design our robots correctly in the first place? The only real accommodation I would allow for their design would be to make them relatively short, say about 5 foot. This is primarily a psychological benefit for humans who are likely to feel intimidated if robots were always taller. Looking down on something gives a reassuring feeling and perception of superiority. I think Honda agree with me on this.

    Click here for an introduction to ASIMO

    This is a Japanese site and I found it a little slow, even with my high-speed connection. Don’t try this with a low speed (56Kb) dialup connection. The movies of the robot walking and turning are quite good. I also saw it moving up and down stairs on TV. ASIMO is only 4 foot; its predecessor was I think around 6 foot. Remember these are early days and we don’t have the processing power yet for the AI components.

    For off world exploration or in dangerous environments where humans will never venture then specialized robots might make more sense. Otherwise most will be humanoid general-purpose designs, at least for most of this century.

    Cris
     
  13. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,024
    Wouldn't it be better for a humonid robot?

    I think a humanoid robot is perfect for the work force, no matter what type of work is being done. The company doesn't have to remove computer terminals, and other things that allow workers to interact with each other and the company. This would be cheaper for the company, than refitting their offices and plants for strictly robots. Plus keeping robots human-like in design, allows humans to work side by side with their robot co-workers in relative ease. The humanoid design is much better suited. Plus this allows a corporation to create one model of general purpose robot, with the only speciality having to be programming. Once again this cut costs.
     
  14. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    Curly. This has really caught your imagination, hasn't it?

    I think I was 14 (1966) when I first read the Asimov novel "I Robot". I've been waiting ever since for those stories to start to become reality. One of the first stories, maybe even the first, involved a robotic toy dog. It is interesting that Sony has had its $1500 robot dog in stores for the past year. I think the time of the robot is very close.

    Have fun.
    Cris
     
  15. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,235
    Oooops!

    Sorry about that Cris:
    Your referring to 'keyboards' tripped the thought train:
    Writing ->Typewriters -> writers who aren't comfortable with computers and still use typewriters (some even use lead pencils).
    Oh Cris ... I really think you should get out in the real world a bit:
    1) Unless you'd want to your robot to fly your Cessna 152 or Piper Cub (doubtful since that's the fun: flying it yourself) all it would have to do is 'plug' in! Almost all new commercial aircraft are equiped with 'glass' cockpits and 'fly by wire', as do the latest helicopters;
    2) Most electronic instruments, including pianos, using MIDI could be directly connected to (why do you think the professionals are using computers - and have been for a number of years);
    3) More and more autos now days are becoming 'drive by wire' and even have remote sensing (TV to show you want is behind you, night vision enhancers, etc.) so what is the problem?
    Yes, I do like to be (rather than 'play') the cynic, but I think you are being the 'lazy' one, Cris, and have a difficult time with someone who, to use C.P.Snow's words, 'Disputes your passage' (You do remember that one: 'Have you learned only from those .... etc.' don't you?).
    Dream on dear Cris of humanoid robots - It's so much easier.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2001
  16. thecurly1 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,024
    There is more to this thread than humanoid or not humanoid...

    I still prefer a humanoid robot, because the human body has evolved very well to the natural enviroment, and works nearly perfect in cities. You can walk on a level surface fairly efficently, or walk up or down stairs, or climb walls with little assistance. The design is tried and true, its better than any alternative.

    But enough of that, I think that the future will see human owned robots working side by side with people that still want to work. There would be more robots, but people that enjoy their job and don't mind working, (which could be come a delicacy in the future) would do so side by side with their robot companions.
     
  17. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,616
    Mixing of the populace and robots brings to mind a basic problem. As has been mentioned before here we have enough problems with just getting access for the handicapped to get into public buildings. If robots are made of steel (and you can pretty much bet the first ones will) then close contact will bring a lot of pain to the human workforce. Imagine on of these things stepping on your foot! So we try to mandate those all-public buildings and places of commingling are cordoned off into human traffic and robotic traffic?

    In the need to redesign. As for as keyboards go, it would be a dimple addition, not adding on the cost very much to add a usb port or whatever to allow communication with the computer from an outside source for the computer. This was demonstrated to some extent in the movie Robocop where the hero has a spike that is plunged into a port and then communication takes place. Perhaps this is the DSL for the robot to computer link. This puts the human at a disadvantage, as we simply can not perform at such a speed. Neither in input or worse in output. In addition the robotic worker will not need the hours off for sleep. So does the office wait the returning of the human worker to continue on the task it was set at? I don’t think that the company heads will much like that situation.
     
  18. tony1 Jesus is Lord Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,279
    dreamland beckons

    Admirable proposition, but only 40 years too late.

    Besides, what would "corporations" do with the hundreds of thousands of existing robots?

    This would be the reason for your desperate hope that mind-uploading will work.

    Have you considered that those super-intelligent machines might analyze your mind, and decide that it is not worth uploading?

    That isn't sarcasm.
    Have you considered that?
     
  19. tony1 Jesus is Lord Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,279
    Where have you been for the last forty years?

    Didn't anyone tell you that "I Robot" was fiction?
    While it was prophetic fiction, it was fiction, nevertheless.

    What makes it fiction is that the details aren't exactly right.
    What makes it prophetic is that robots are here to stay, already.

    You have apparently confused the fictional with the prophetic.

    You expected the details to be true and Asimov's prophetic intent to be false.

    Meanwhile, reality marched right past you, with Asimov's vision intact and his fictional details remaining fictional.

    Is everyone on this forum living in dreamland?

    What do you mean "the first ones will?"
    The first ones WERE, decades ago.

    And imagination isn't required, just call the families of the people ALREADY accidentally killed by robots.
     
  20. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    I guess we should distinguish between pre-programmed automatons on the factory floor and human equivalent intelligent mobile machines. I think Curly and I had assumed that most here could see the vast difference.

    Mechanisation and automation has been replacing people working on many mundane tasks for a long time now, but the introducing of truly intelligent machines poses a different issue for people at work, especially if they have achieved full or partial self-awareness.

    The essential issue is one of economics and specifically the distribution of wealth. For the most part of human history wealth distribution has been achieved by trading skills (i.e. employment). If all skills can be effectively and more efficiently replaced by intelligent machines then the basis for our economic society will collapse.

    Sharing the workplace alongside robot workers where the robots are self-independent will not be beneficial to humanity or acceptable if payment for skills remains the basis for our economy.

    If industry has the freedom to use intelligent machines to replace humans where such machines are more efficient then a new and radical mechanism must be created for wealth distribution.

    Capital ownership by individuals of such machines was and is my proposal. Does anyone have a better solution?

    Cris
     
  21. tony1 Jesus is Lord Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,279
    Safe assumption.
    However, I had assumed that most here could see the tremendous similarities.

    Self-awareness aside for now, why would one need truly intelligent machines replacing workers who perform such mundane tasks?

    Back to self-awareness, wouldn't self-aware machines create an artificial version of the same problem that exists now, namely the awareness of boredom?
    The failure to program negative emotions into such machines would be tantamount to programming self-awareness out of such machines.
    Thus, one is in a vicious circle with self-aware machines.
    If one programs self-awareness into the machines then the result is the same as we have now with human workers.
    OTOH, if one leaves out negative emotions then, by definition, they are not self-aware.
    Either that, or one ends up with a bunch of mechanical Pollyannas, and you know how irritating that is.

    No kidding.
    That is the precise reason why automobiles cost so much.
    Ordinarily, given the economies of scale, autos should cost about $1000 to manufacture.
    The UAW has foreseen the economic effect of mechanization and has negotiated various sorts of job security clauses into their contracts.
    That costs money.

    No, I think you've come up with the best one.
    Unfortunately, "best" does not mean "most practical."

    Industry today does not care in the least about self-awareness.
    All that matters is ROI.
    Money tends to follow returns.
    If self-awareness produces returns, then that is where the money will go.

    Furthermore, if you negotiate an employment contract with an employer and your robot shows up on the first day of work, would the employer not conclude that you have broken the contract?

    In any case, even if there were legal safeguards along the lines you mentioned earlier, what would prevent employers, or "corporations," from renaming or redefining their machinery so as not to infringe the law in order to bypass the need for dealing with individual ownership of intelligent mobile machinery?
     
  22. tetra Hello Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    144
    If robots replaced workers, there would be a brief period where everybody is pissed off, but then there would be a golden age where all of the people who would normally be workers have to go through college and do something useful.
     
  23. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    Tetra,

    College is useful?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    It seems to me that most of college is helping to prepare people to be useful in some form of work. If machines and robots replace all work then college life might well be very different than it is today. It would be more along the lines of learning for the sheer pleasure of learning. And the choices would be much broader with fewer if any mandatory subjects. For example, I am sure that there are many who would be quite happy if they had never been exposed to any form of mathematics, yet there are those who would probably like to do nothing but math.

    When we reach a state where humans are freed from having to work to live then we will have a fundamentally different society and very different life values. I suspect art would become far more extensive and varied mainly because many budding artists now cannot make a living producing art so their talents go unnoticed and undeveloped. Creativity will become the most valued commodity.

    Cris
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page