By Zuko Komisa
The quest to improving our lives through modern technology and Artificial Intelligence has seen many discoveries and breakthroughs in inventions, many of which have raised alarm bells to a society whose mere existence might be threatened by the existence of a superior species. We are seeing more and more human creations whose sole purpose is to change the world as we know it.
In recent years there has been the introduction of driverless cars, children given artificial limbs, operating systems (OS) that are very realistic, the list of creepy invasive inventions is endless. At the recent Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, a human-like robot named Sophia was unveiled and granted citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is a first in many regards, giving a robot equal status as a human being, a declaration of trust in a new technology without the foresight of the dire possibilities this may cause in the future.
The Sophia development is particularly concerning as the was no clear definition of the Social and Legal Rights this robot will have. There have been laws put in place to protect humans from injury by robotics, especially here in South Africa. There are also many layers to consider when introducing to the world a new species that is a re-creation of ourselves by ourselves.
Sophia has the ability to teach itself an emotion, is an impressive self-learning machine with infinite access to all the data ever made and is a constantly updating its knowledge base. Saudi Arabia is in the process of building an entirely new city worth US$500 billion which will be fuelled and ran by renewables and robotics a heavily invested in the future of robotics.
There have been many movies that have been created to show humanity what the future of Artificial Intelligence will look like; these movies show a gloomy picture of what we can expect in the future. One gets the impression that we are being prepared for a whole new world completely ran by machines.
Movies such as District 9, iRobot, Blade Runner 2049, Transformers, Power Rangers, Ex Machina, Terminator, Chappie; the list is endless. All of these are created in a fictional world, giving different scenarios of an imagined world with machines.
The real question is, are we ready for a world that is computerized, sharing our humanity with unpredictable soulless robotics with no conscious, manufactured emotions and more intelligent that than the average Joe. Are we safe, are we participating in framing the kind of world we will live in?
Is humanity ready human-like robots? When will we know we’ve gone too far?