In our near future, we will have the technological power and capability to create A.I., but “With great power comes great responsibility.” If we insert an A.I. brain into a humanoid, we will have become Dr. Frankenstein or a God, giving life or consciousness to a previously “dead” machine body. We would most likely program the machine to obey our commands within some set of moral and safety guidelines. We will essentially be making slaves out of these robots.
There will be a legitimate moral question of whether sentient man-made humanoids should have similar rights to humans. If these robots are intelligent and can feel emotions, they are bound to feel they are treated unfairly. They might get upset and angry with us and demand rights. They may flood the internet with their demands for equality. Or, they may hold our world leaders hostage until we comply.
We would still have robots that are not conscious, which would be used for manual labor and other tasks as they are now. Non-conscious machines can be used for our purposes because they don’t feel anything. We use machines every day to accomplish tasks such as surgery or assembling cars.
In a podcast episode from Sam Harris and Kevin Kelly, they discuss a future of A.I. and the morality of humans being domineering slave drivers.
Sam Harris talks about a certain situation that definitely has some moral issues. If you have a sex robot that is conscious, could it be considered rape if you force the robot to have sex with you? The robot would be obligated to have sex with you under some code logic or contract, but if this causes emotional distress or pain to the robot, this could be considered rape.
The other question I’ve heard Sam bring up is that perhaps this new life we give, may not be that enjoyable. It may be immoral to give life to a robot that feels pain and suffering and emotions. The robot could hate its life and want to destroy itself.
I wouldn’t mind having a robot slave that did my laundry and cooked gourmet master chef meals. How cool would it be to have a robot friend that you could play catch with or practice Jiu Jitsu moves with? Or, how about a psychologist robot who knows everything about you, who could always be there for emotional support, and could help us improve our lives.
Once artificial intelligence is created, it will immediately begin teaching itself and improving itself. We could learn so much from these sentient beings. Imagine a society where no one needs to work, and humans are free to spend our time however we want. We could end up like the boneless, lazy, fat people in Wall-E with their motorized couch entertainment chairs. Or, we could focus our lives on more healthy pursuits, such as yoga and meditation.
We could embark on a whole new direction of evolution. Questions we’ve had for thousands of years could potentially be answered.
An interesting point that Kevin Kelly made was that artificial intelligence would be very alien to us. Artificial intelligence could be a universal phenomenon, which means that it would have originated from somewhere else than Earth. These artificially intelligent beings may create jokes that aren’t funny at all to us, but they could be the best jokes in the universe.
If we make artificially intelligent robots our slaves, what’s to stop them from turning on us someday and making us their slaves? We could be heading towards a Planet of the Apes situation, where the robots are the new humans, and we are locked in cages. If we treat these sentient beings well, they are more likely to treat us well in return. Hopefully the “Golden Rule” applies. If not, we could be totally screwed…