Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

I, Robots


One thing typifies almost every confrontation, interaction, or relationship between humans and robots from the early days of Science Fiction until the present. The encounter is one to one, i.e., both humans and robots are portrayed as autonomous.

We’ve known for sometime this will not be the case. That is, we know it in our bones (so to speak) but not in our consciousness. There is little discussion of an individual human dealing with a solitary robot connected to the hive mind of other similar robots.

The Internet grew to ubiquity over ten years ago. Two-way wireless communication has existed for over a hundred years. Everywhere, we are surrounded by people interconnected, tethered to The Cloud. Why expect robots to be different?

Perhaps the first image that comes to your mind is the Borg Collective from Star Trek, The Next Generation. That is most definitely not the way it will be. The lone robot may act as though it is an individual being, when in fact it is part of a hive.

While this robot we face may appear to be autonomous, you can bet it’s in touch with its fellow robots, via The Cloud. What one knows, all know. What one sees, hears, remembers, learns, etc.

It might occur to you at this point that such a connected robot could easily have advantages over a human. If you think I’m exaggerating the intelligence gained by pooling vast amounts of data, then you’re unaware of how Google Translate works.

How we will relate (in what appears to us to be a one on one situation) to such a connected robot? No one can predict this or even imagine it. If the human detects the presence of the hive, he or she will be hard-pressed to feel the equal of the robot.

You may feel superior dealing with one robot. In the near future, the robot before you may have the mind of a thousand, or ten thousand, or more. How will you feel then?

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