Is It Possible That Robots Will Take Over the World?
Robots are becoming increasingly prevalent in many fields of science and industry. A robot is usually a self-contained unit, usually electrically operated, designed to perform a number of specific tasks. A robot may be remotely controlled by an outside source, or it may be embedded internally with programming designed to carry out a certain set of tasks. Robotic technology has made great strides forward in recent years, making today’s robots much more capable than ever before. But are they legal?
There are actually two ways that robots may be used legally. One is to replace people, often referred to as robots, with artificially intelligent machines (robot horses, robo-chairs, etc.). The other use of robots in industry and business is to inspect products, perform tasks, and process information. Both of these practices are perfectly legal under current federal and state laws. However, the laws that apply to businesses and industrial facilities might vary significantly from those applied to homes and individuals.
In industries where robots are primarily used to replace humans, it might be difficult to distinguish their use from that of a medical assistant. A robotic assistant would essentially be doing the same task as a doctor. Each action is pre-planned, much like a doctor would act in a surgery. The difference, of course, is that the doctor will typically have a much greater degree of training, and consequently greater skill, in treating patients. While a robot cannot diagnose diseases or prescribe treatments, he or she can perform basic health screening and measuring for health conditions.
The same is true for companies that use robots to perform a variety of repetitive tasks. They may perform administrative tasks such as answering phone calls, handling long-term records, filing paperwork, and so on. Regardless of whether such tasks are performed by one robot or by a number of robots, the use of a machine can be considered involuntary labor under federal and state laws. Likewise, if a company uses a machine to replace an entire team of workers, even if they are not actually making phone calls, the use of force, as in the case of a mining plant, or the physical force used to lift heavy objects, could be considered reprehensible.
The issue of whether or not robots should be allowed to own themselves has been before the legal spotlight. One argument put forward by opponents of robotic automation is that the machines will take away jobs, which will lead to unemployment. However, this argument does not stand up in light of the fact that a great deal of technological advancements have led to the ability of machines to perform a wide range of tasks previously only attainable by humans. Furthermore, it should be noted that there is currently an abundance of available jobs that do not require advanced degrees or qualifications, but only a modicum of basic education. Thus, it seems that robots may not be best placed to do some of the more basic jobs such as cleaning or child care.
Proponents of the use of robots to point out that they already use such techniques as picking cotton off of the ground, sorting garbage and sanitizing hospitals. There is also little argument that such techniques would become obsolete were humans not to use such technology. Therefore, robots may very well be helpful to society in terms of preserving jobs. One of the most fundamental issues that robot opponents raise is the danger of robots thinking for themselves. This argument, while legitimate in certain situations, generally applies to all forms of artificially intelligent machines. Therefore, it could be argued that robots should be limited to work related tasks, and not become self-aware and act in a manner that may cause unfortunate accidents.
In addition, it may be argued that there is no way to regulate the actions of robots, and that they will always take actions based on their programming. While there is little that robots can do that we cannot do ourselves, the concern is whether or not such decisions are ethically wrong. After all, it is unlikely that all future robots will be completely identical to us, as each person’s personality will be different. For instance, it is quite possible that a future android robot will never realize that it is not human, and it may be completely unaware of its own gender and identity.
Finally, it is important to remember that it is impossible to control all possible future robot behavior. It is possible that robots will take all human ethical obligations seriously, but if they are built with faulty parts this might not be possible. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that the laws governing ethical behavior might someday be superseded by machine driven moral systems. Regardless of what you think, robots may someday be able to take care of our legal duties and solve some of society’s problems. Therefore, the debate as to whether or not robots should be allowed to replace people is one of the most important of our time.