Machines could take over the future


EVER SINCE the Jewish religion introduced the concept of the Golem in the middle ages, a mud statue brought to life but without a soul, mankind has believed that human replicas could eventually be animated and created with intelligence.

The word Robot was first introduced to the world in 1920 in a play and since then, the concept of a mechanical being has been expanded to include Android (human robot) and Cyborg (man-machine hybrid).

Popular culture abounds with references to these man created machines and robotics have been used in industry for many years now but the European Parliament is worried that as they become more human in form and thought, their existence should be covered by law.

MEPs have therefore been presented with a report which recognises that there is a new revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence and therefore laws should be passed before it is too late to
regularise their production and ‘lives’.

In essence the reports suggests that the parliament needs to decide whether there is such a thing as an ‘electronic person’ and if so what rights if any they should be given. In addition, MEPs are recommended to instruct manufacturers to come up with an easy way to terminate the robots ‘life’ if necessary.

In his 1950 novel ‘I Robot’, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov created the three laws of robotics which were built into the brains of all robots and these are;

“A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

“A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.”

“A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.”

It is possible that these ‘laws’ will be part of any new EU legislation especially as artificial intelligence becomes more than a jerky white plastic robot playing chess and humanoid androids start to take over work from human beings.

It is already anticipated that call centres manned by humans will disappear within the next 10 years or so and as we enter the ‘Brave New World’, the EU wants to ensure that it does become a dystopian nightmare as seen in ‘The Terminator’ and ‘The Matrix.

It is however unlikely that legislators will be brave enough to stop the inevitable job losses that will occur when big business is able to use artificially intelligent creations which don’t have unions, lunch breaks, wage demands, holidays or maternity leave.

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