The Turk (1700s), Da Vinci (2000), and AlphaGo (2015) are only some of the many “robots” that have brought about revolutionary changes to the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Although the proficiency of such robots has already been proven, the public has had mixed opinions on the topic of these robots replacing many areas of mankind’s lifestyle.
When AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence program developed by Google Deepmind, defeated Korean professional Go player of ninth Dan rank Sedol Lee in a best-of-five Go match, the public’s initial response was that of surprise and disbelief as it was unexpected for AlphaGo to beat Lee so easily, with the final score being four to one. However, as time passed, the public’s response to the event started to change more negatively as people started to realize the untested potential of the rapidly developing technology.
From the early days of the Industrial Revolution, it has been quite obvious that when mankind is faced with rapid changes, it tends to be quite reluctant to accept the changing times and give up its position. When the first assembly lines were introduced in the early factories, many factory workers set out to protest against the introduction of technology in the factory environment. Namely, the Luddites were one of the infamous protest groups that were said to operate under a set of established principles called Luddism, which was generally a derogatory title for people that showed “technophobic” behaviors. The Luddites engaged in violent actions by trespassing factories at night and damaging the different machines inside the factory. During this time period, the main reason for such a large number of protestants was that the machines were taking jobs away from the factory workers. Factory owners who understood that machines were much more productive decided to invest large amounts of money on the machines and consequently get rid of many pre-existing workers.
However, with the recent turn of events, the fear towards mechanization took a more philosophical turn. With the introduction of new technology like AI and other mankind-aiding revolutionary robots, the answer to the question of our role as humans becomes more bleak and rather uncomfortable to discuss. In the past, before any form of industrialization, we, as humans, thought that our main role circulated around working in order to support our families and leading a healthy life. Then came the first industrialization, which slightly modified the definition of success in society to being educated enough to carry out tasks that were simply impossible for the early machines. And now that the world is being introduced to more sophisticated technology such as AI, which allows robots to think more intelligently than humans in many different aspects such as situational thinking through the use of algorithms, it is not surprising that people are now afraid of the possible ramifications of implementing these technologies in their lives.
In the past, it was quite impossible to believe that robots could replace doctors and lawyers. But looking at the status quo with the increasing use of the Da Vinci Surgical Robot around the world as an aiding tool for surgical doctors and the amount of investment made on the development of future technology, it is an unquestionable fact that the role of humans in the workplace is raising questions. Soon, surgical-aiding robots will become the surgical doctors themselves: When the automated driving system improves, there will be no need for a front-seat driver, and when security improves, there will be no need for law-enforcing jobs. When we finally reach an age where people are completely replaced by robots, it will be interesting to see the many aspects of mankind.
The financial spectrum, lifestyle, and many other aspects of living will change. It is already quite hard to imagine what people will be doing for a living in the future when robots have replaced all possible workplace jobs. If there are no jobs available for humans to take anymore, how will the economy change? Who will distribute the money? Will a time when we stop trying to continuously develop technology to “aid” humans come? These are all quite interesting and intriguing questions that can only be answered when we finally face the situation for ourselves. Looking at the recent turn of events, it doesn’t seem like it is going to take long until the day comes. Until then, we should all enjoy the present day but keep a wary eye on the possible future.