What does the future hold for man and his mechanical helpers? Maybe a better question is; how will the relationship between man and machine evolve? When man's machines were confined to things like stone axes, levers and cotton gins, our 'relationship' to these tools was a simple one, but as man's mechanized helpmates become more and more sophisticated, so to will our interactions with them.
Image "AmalgaMATE" by Michaelo
In a recent podcast, the folks over at Stuff You Should Know, asked "Will robots get married?" Early on in the podcast, the answer was rather matter-of-fact: anytime people start having sex with something, they're bound to start developing feelings for it.
Pardon me? What's that?
As lifelike robots begin to become more accessible, even mainstream, there are some smart folks who believe that people who interact with them will eventually begin to have feelings for them. Especially, as the emotional range robots are able to convey and articulate become more complex. And once you've got people falling in love, and advocating for their loved ones, the next logical steps, according to what I'm reading, is advocating for robot rights and their integration into the society of thinking beings.
Over at Time magazine, Lev Grossman has been chatting with Ray Kurzweil, who still favors the ideas he put down in "The Age of Spiritual Machines"; man and machine will join in a more complete way, by a melding of minds into complex computer systems, potentially leaving our physical bodies--and our mortality--behind.
Are robots just cool tools? Gadgets we'll use to sweep up, put away the groceries, or walk the dog. Or will we someday be talking about human-robot hybrid 'children' that are made up of the combined consciousness of their human and robot parents, and installed in android bodies? And will this kid be nice to your kid on the playground?
I hope Asimov got it right in I, Robot. Just looking around on the internet, there is a boat-load of crap about this stuff. I just read a great review of a crummy book called We, Robot get it? which includes about 50 examples in the subtitle alone.
I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to have the microwave oven making eyes at me.