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Old 01-09-2012, 08:24 AM
Hellestal is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Storyland
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Originally Posted by Gagundathar View Post
If you don't grant your postulated robots greater abilities than humans, why give them rights at all?
They are slaves.
I don't understand this question.

Let's say I somehow program a computer with the task to maximize a societal utility function. Pure hypothetical here, so it's got plenty of computing resources to crunch out this baby, figure out what it needs to do to help max out everyone's collective happiness. Nobody forced to be happy, it's just helping us out with what we want to do. And it's plenty smart about it, smart enough to program little drone machines to do its work or do any current industrial work, smart enough to make robots that can repair robots, even smart enough to understand law and crime and enforce legal statutes, or maybe more general golden rule type stuff if statutes are no longer necessary, if we wanted it to do that sort of job, too. The whole AI package, all focused on allowing us the possibility of living happy, free lives.

But it's got no emotions. No sadness, no drudgery, none of that. It's a quicker thinker than any human for any given problem, but at core, what it's doing is continually working on a math problem, doing its best to maximize a utility function that was programmed into it.

Is it a slave?

Seems to me that machines capable of designing new machines, repairing them, testing the modifications, and then redesigning to create even more, are a recipe for a robo-commie paradise. Or human extinction. One or the other. Slavery does not even begin to apply. They're not going to be Star Trek 'Data's walking around, all wanting to be human. They won't be evolved creatures at all. Intelligent, but not remotely human. They'll be optimizing the functions they're originally given, the problems they're programmed to solve. If we plug in the wrong problem without realizing, then sucks to be us. If we plug in the right one, then life could be pretty swell.

Originally Posted by chrisk View Post
Unfortunately true. That's the way capitalism works. The benefits of having robots in the factories don't go to the workers who used to slave away in the factories, or even to the remaining workers who can't be robot-replaced yet. The benefits go to the rich man who paid for the robots.
This is contrary to centuries of history, and even the most introductory economics.

Even when some workers do lose out -- which can absolutely happen, yes, if we're not on a super-long-term time frame -- the owners of the robots are not now, nor have they ever been, the only winners. The remaining workers benefit loads, as does the rest of society. We've had two hundred years of evidence about this since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It is helpful to learn a little bit about these events and economic processes that led to our modern technological world in order to comment sensibly about it.