Robot ethics is a real-life concept that science is quite busy taming and figuring out right now. Also known as “The Terminator Effect,” this technological concept truly is one that affects more and more of us everyday. Here’s more of the scoop on this controversial subject as of right now.
How We Got Here
It started with fire making and basic necessity management. From there, we learned to make more advanced tools, how to harness electricity, and eventually even send humanity into outer space. As humanity has grown in technological capability, for the most part, the benefits have been indescribably great.
Now, we’ve come to a point in history like no other before. With the advancement of computing technology we’ve managed to administer, we now have entire systems that can think, process human-like logic, and subsequently make decisions and act accordingly. These impressive computing machines are, in many cases, superior to the processing abilities of our human brains. This is fantastic, but also quite worrisome.
Ethics, Freedom, Safety: A Fierce Debate
Here, we set at a crossroads of robot ethics. Computers already control many facets of our lives. This can be seen in the dependence on computers for global banking, record keeping, personal identities, traffic management, healthcare, and even basic home utility services. Should these computers become “too intelligent” and begin to incorporate free-will and even biases, what could potentially happen?
This is only a consideration of computers without attached, mechanized parts. Now, let’s discuss such highly evolved computing systems that are also accompanied by physical forms, bodies, and maneuverable parts. Should these packages gain too much free-will and even biases, the dangers could theoretically be much more severe than just banking or personal identity mix-ups.
Ethics concerns in technology are also referred to as The Terminator Effect because of the movie, The Terminator and its renowned depiction of intelligent machines rising up against humanity in mass. More and more, leaders in government, military, technology, and other industries are becoming concerned with this history-making, and seemingly extremely pivotal point in the human timeline. Big names such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and many others have all been seen getting involved.
Two Opposing Stances
So, what exactly are the positions held in this point of contention and worry? Admittedly, we do face a dilemma in creating technology that is so advanced that it far eclipses our own abilities, thus endangering and antiquating us as humans altogether. As is in all matters of great ethical concern, technology ethics are divided in half by two fiercely opposite beliefs.
These beliefs on the matter are quite basic and easy to understand. One belief says that we will be just fine and that technology will parallel its own growth with the creation of effective security measures, or checks and balances that keep humans in distinct control. On the other hand, a deeply opposite school of thought also resounds.
That thinking is that no matter what we as humans do to control this technology, at some point, our creations are only human-made, and thus inferior to the counter endeavors made by machine. It is thus believed that we would then cross a threshold in which the reign of power changes hands and cannot be undone. At that point, we could then face any number of concerns ranging from totalitarian enslavement to complete extinction.
We cannot be sure who is right or wrong in this quandary. We do know though that technology is reaching a point in which it is surpassing our own abilities. As disturbing or gloomy a question as this may be, we must now come to a decision on how to handle this magic that is computing technology. These are the basics of robot ethics and where we stand today on this important, developing matter.