THE ROBOTS ARE COMING! THE ROBOTS ARE COMING!
Sophisticated robotic devices were standard in many manufacturing operations by the 1980s. The use of such devices in all areas of manufacturing, warehousing and distribution has continued to grow, and by 2010 in Japan and elsewhere humanized robots were in use in many service industries.
It takes no great intellect to realize that robotic devices and humanized robots are going to continue replacing a significant proportion of all manual labor tasks as well as many of the tasks in virtually all other fields of endeavor, including health care and surgery, within this century.
Coming to terms with this new world will be one of the most fundamental cultural and industrial challenges mankind has ever faced.
The future of robotic devices in the health care industry was abundantly clear by 2011 when over one thousand American hospitals were using the da Vinci robot to perform prostate cancer removal and other delicate operations…and the use of the da Vinci robot alone was growing worldwide.
Pioneered and promoted by India-born Dr. Mani Menon, director of the Vattikuti Urology Institute at Henry Ford, the da Vinci robot is a harbinger of things to come.
The integration of high-tech devices into education systems in the U.S. was also well underway by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and their number and sophistication will continue to increase with each passing year. The question is: how far will they go in replacing live teachers.
The programming of robots to have the most desirable qualities of human beings has advanced so rapidly that some are already smarter than humans and capable of interacting with humans on a sophisticated level.
Fans of the prescient television and film series STAR TREK, The Next Generation [which began in 1987] have only to consider the robot Lt. Commander Data to clearly see where robotics are going. Data is smarter, stronger and faster than any human being could ever be, never needs rest, never needs sleep, can absorb huge amounts of new information in milliseconds, never forgets anything, and doesn’t deteriorate with age.
By 2010 in Japan robots were already being used as assistant nurses, assistant doctors, maids, tour guides, information specialists, product spokesmen, guards, and more. There is virtually no end to what robots can be programmed to do now, and with each passing year they will be able to do more and do it better.
The question is: how will human beings deal with future Datas. Will they all be programmed to be tolerant and kind and protective of human beings and do only good things?
Given the history of humanity the answer to this question is not necessarily “Yes.” It is very likely that some of the engineers who create or obtain and pro-gram the first Datas will be influenced by their culture, their race, their tribal affiliations, their religions and so on—a frightening thought.
Robots have been used as weapons of war since the early 21st century, and long before they approach the sophistication and abilities of Lt. Commander Data they will make up most of the armed forces.
As far back as 2006 writer Bill Christensen noted that Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry was working on a new set of safety guidelines for next-generation robots. Their set of regulations constituted the first attempt at a formal version of the Laws of Robotics, conceived by the science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1940, or at least the portion that states that humans shall not be harmed by robots.
The first law of robotics as set forth by Asimov states: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Of course, the greatest danger that might come from highly intelligent robots—also already suggested by science-fiction movies—is that they would become self-aware and decide to make humans their servants—or worse.
The only hope for humanity is that the superior intelligence of robots—and no human history baggage in their brain chips—would result in them becoming gods instead of devils.
One of Japan’s top robotics experts, Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, who designed and built a robot based on his appearance as well as his mindset and behavior says that human-like robots are mirrors that reflects human beings and should be treated as such—a very sobering thought.
In the meantime, and on a brighter side, one of the most obvious uses of smart robots at this time in history is as teachers. Just image: no pay; no time off; no emotional meltdowns; no incompetence; no unions!
Given all the negative influences in the cultures of the world the only salvation for humanity may be technology—which by itself is rapidly changing all of the world’s cultures.
In the long run, even without forward thinking and forward-acting leaders, the world’s cultures will be-come more and more rational, and more and more democratic because of the universal and objective, influence of technology.
But given the fact that primitive religions and authoritarian political forms still have at least a partial death-grip on the majority of mankind, these trans-formations could take generations because educators and political leaders will not take the heroic steps necessary to change today’s morality and today’s policies…even if they want it to happen!
And, of course, there are many leaders who are dead-set against freedom and against a humane morality for the people they rule over.
As a result, many people may continue to be oppressed and prevented from achieving their full potential for generations to come…unless these changes are aggressively promoted by huge numbers of people blogging the world’s bureaucrats and leaders in business, in politics and in religions with exposure, criticism and advice! And even more importantly, by simply refusing to go along with stupid, insane policies and the people who promote them!
Of course, the majority of people everywhere are sickened by the world’s cultural failures. But survival, power and profit-making…not moral behavior…are the overwhelming goals of most leaders in politics and business. And as already said, there is no way that the weak, divided and often irrational spiritual-based moralities of today are going to change that!
We therefore need to teach and follow a philosophy of living and working that is based on common sense, on the fragile nature of the Earth, on the real physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and philosophical needs of human beings.
Of course, there are people already espousing these philosophies but with so little impact that contemplating the future is frightening. Despite the misuse and abuse of the Internet by hate mongers, pornographers and radical religious zealots, this new technology also makes it possible for the average person to make his or her voice heard on a large scale for the first time in the history of mankind.
Ordinary people can now vote and express themselves online at any time on very important issues of the day! If enough rational and morally enlightened people will bring more and more pressure against leaders in every field to force them to give up their self-serving ways—or force them out of positions of authority and let a new breed of people have a go at it—the ancient religious promise of peace on Earth might be achieved.
Two of the more obvious things that we in the United States are now talking about—and could do if we had the will—is to reintroduce discipline and a reality-based future-oriented curriculum into the educational system, and to boycott purveyors of obscene, immoral and harmful ideas and behavior instead of rewarding them with fame and great wealth.
Just as obviously, the First Amendment of the Constitution should be amended to prohibit its abuse by the so-called entertainment industries—and the so-called news media as well. In addition to being morally inexcusable, the present system is socially insane.
One of the fundamental imperatives in bringing humanity into the new world of the 21st century within a universal culture is the need for a higher level of wisdom combined with better training systems that are integrated into the culture. This wisdom has existed for millennia and there have been some examples of education and training systems that created out-standing people.
However, humans have screwed up and misused far simpler technology than what is now appearing in the world of robotics, which pales with what will appear just in the next few decades. Without a dramatic overhaul of world cultures, based on a 21st century education system, technology will no doubt continue to be both God and Satan.
***This blog was excerpted from my book: THE PLAGUE OF MALE DOMINANCE – The Cause and Cure!, available in ebook and printed formats from Amazon.com.
Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the moral collapse of the U.S. along with books on his home state of Arizona. To see a full list of his books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way!