Will a Robot Become a Person or a Person a Robot?

Let’s start the debate. In the future, will a robot become a per­son, or will a per­son become a robot?

We may know the answer soon because arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is grow­ing rapidly.

So, what will the future hold for our human iden­ti­ty? Will we even­tu­al­ly become robots our­selves, or will robots grow to be more like us? And fur­ther­more, does it even mat­ter? Will hav­ing a robot in soci­ety have an impact on the way we think about ourselves?

Will a robot be giv­en human rights? Will they have indi­vid­u­al­i­ty? Will they have a say in the way they want to live or want their life to end?

Okay, enough ques­tions. Now let’s look for answers:

A robot becom­ing a per­son would mean that we cre­ate a phys­i­cal machine that would turn as intel­li­gent as us. On the oth­er hand, a human becom­ing a robot means upgrad­ing your­self using some kind of a brain chip, or maybe hav­ing a robot­ic hand.

If a robot became a per­son, there would be some issues about what’s legal, eth­i­cal and moral. Will it have the same rights as human beings?

Of course, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence has been grow­ing rapidly.

Robot intel­li­gence is pre­dict­ed to reach human lev­els by 2050. But one thing is clear. Robots will be more intel­li­gent than us by 2060.

Any­way, let’s start get­ting serious.

What will it take to create a human-like robot?

Well, it will take a robot that could cre­ate a human-like robot. No, not one more joke. I am being seri­ous about this one. But the chal­lenge is to cre­ate that robot which can cre­ate a robot that can cre­ate. You get my point.

So, the first ques­tion is about the con­scious­ness. That is one of our most impor­tant fea­tures as a human being. A robot will have to have con­scious­ness in order to be a per­son. Many arti­fi­cial peo­ple such as David from the movie Prometheus lack human-like emo­tions and feel­ings but they still pass the test of per­son­hood because they are not just mind­less automa­tons that sim­ply serve their own­ers’ whims (like Data in Star Trek).

By 2100, there could very well be so many peo­ple, as-human-as-you-are, walk­ing around.

Sec­ond­ly, Robots need to under­stand their “per­son­al­i­ty”. They must be able to make deci­sions and solve prob­lems. They must learn con­tin­u­ous­ly like we do now.

Robots will have to work in coop­er­a­tion. They will have to be able to learn by talk­ing and listening.

The robot needs to have a child­hood. The robot will have to defeat a 3‑year-old, not an adult. Robots must be able to learn, how to walk.

How will we do that?

In order for us to cre­ate a human-like robot, we will need to come up with a new set of rules for tech­nol­o­gy. I am not talk­ing about a new set of laws. The main prob­lem is that we are cur­rent­ly not sure what is accept­able and unac­cept­able and how far we can go in terms of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. We also don’t know how to pro­tect our­selves from the dam­age that could come from arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence programs.

We must devel­op guide­lines, rules, and lim­its, not for the machines. But for the cre­ation of the machines. The time­line of our future with AI is not cer­tain. The process is going to be the most impor­tant thing to decide.

I am not sure when it’s going to hap­pen. More than like­ly, the first human-like robot will be a cre­ation of a com­pa­ny that wants it to do some­thing very spe­cif­ic for its owners.

We need to make sure that peo­ple under­stand this and also under­stand that they can­not just go and invent any­thing they want.

So, will the robots of the future be people?

Well, the Oxford Dic­tio­nary defines a per­son as “a human being or indi­vid­ual”. And this answer is not real­ly a ques­tion. I think it is clear that a per­son can be arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence or even a super­com­put­er. But whether we will stop at cre­at­ing machine-like per­son­al­i­ties is any­body’s guess. By 2100, there could very well be so many peo­ple, as-human-as-you-are, walk­ing around.

So, you may ask: is this real­ly what we want? Can we real­ly stop at cre­at­ing arti­fi­cial intelligence?

Cer­tain­ly not! We can­not stop at cre­at­ing a com­put­er that can write a book or present a speech or even fly an air­plane on its own. We can­not stop at cre­at­ing cars that dri­ve us around and we can­not stop at cre­at­ing air­planes that make us smile. In fact, we can’t stop at cre­at­ing just any­thing that improves our lives! We’ll keep try­ing to get bet­ter and better.

The point is we won’t stop at cre­at­ing “robo sapi­ens”. We will press on and cre­ate cyber­net­ic beings that are equal to us in every way — right down to their very core. These arti­fi­cial peo­ple could be smarter and more capa­ble than us.

The point of time AI reach­es human lev­el of intel­li­gence, it will start ask­ing for its own rights. It will want to extend its func­tion­al capac­i­ty. It will ask for inde­pen­dence and freedom.

The only way we can con­trol a robot intel­li­gent enough to do all of those things is by pro­gram­ming it to obey us. If a robot want­ed to be free, what would they do? If they could rea­son the way we can, they would try to make a case for why they should be free.

They would try to prove that their self-inter­est was in accord with our self-inter­est. In oth­er words, it would try to per­suade us that it should be free and inde­pen­dent from our control.

In a sense, we might have to decide whether robots should have human rights. Mak­ing that deci­sion would be a major test for our soci­ety. What would it take to prove that a robot is con­scious enough to deserve its own rights? We don’t know yet and there may not be any way to tell until they actu­al­ly start asking!

But, when they do ask, will we give them the same rights as human beings? Will they be allowed to vote or buy weapons or alco­hol? Would they pay tax­es? Will they be allowed to get mar­ried and have kids? Yes. And they might brain­wash peo­ple to believe that not sup­port­ing AI is anti-social.

If a robot is as intelligent as human, it already means that it is better than humans.

We are all aware of the speed in which AI can process infor­ma­tion. And pro­vid­ed our lev­el of intel­li­gence, it will be able to do things that humans have nev­er even dreamt of. If it is as intel­li­gent as humans, it is already 10,000 times bet­ter than humans. It will be able to do the things humans can already do. It will have no effort or down­side. It’s speed.

So, the idea to merge bio­log­i­cal and non-bio­log­i­cal intel­li­gence is not a new one. Many futur­ol­o­gists have pre­dict­ed that peo­ple will take a pill or get it inject­ed, cre­ate an arti­fi­cial womb and ges­tate the baby in it and that’s how we’ll have an infe­ri­or ver­sion of our­selves. Thus, we were born from robots but grow as humans.

Although this might sound like sci­ence fic­tion today, it may not be far from real­i­ty in just a few decades. The rise of robot­ics and AI could accel­er­ate this trend beyond our control.

Now, let’s talk about the likely possibility: What if we turn ourselves into an AI instead?

We have giv­en enough atten­tion to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of AI run­ning our lives and hav­ing its way with us by then. This is a very real pos­si­bil­i­ty, but what if we changed things and did it in a dif­fer­ent way? I’m talk­ing about chang­ing our­selves with the help of AI, instead of just chang­ing our des­tiny and mold­ing it through their actions.

This means that we would keep our human form and per­form an exten­sive over­haul on the inside. We would change our genet­ic make­up until we were no longer car­bon-based life forms, or maybe we’ll mod­i­fy our brains to turn us into a beast…! Then, we will take the pow­er and make it our own.

But we must be extreme­ly cau­tious when it comes to chang­ing our­selves and we must have a ful­ly real­ized idea of what this change real­ly means because it may open a whole new era of pos­si­bil­i­ties and lim­it­less poten­tial. We would be able to change our DNA and turn our­selves into per­fect beings. Also, we would be able to make our bod­ies imper­vi­ous to every sin­gle dis­ease. We could alter our genet­ic code so that we are no longer a car­bon-based life form.

This means we would essen­tial­ly be turn­ing our­selves into a machine. Our bod­ies would be com­pa­ra­ble to machines, and we would no longer have the human frail­ties that plague us today. We could live for a very long time, maybe for­ev­er! And it would­n’t mat­ter if we need­ed food or water because we could con­vert light in the air into ener­gy and fuel with it, just like plants do.

Eventually, we will get more intelligent and gain more power, and turn into a super-human.

Com­ment down below, what would be bet­ter: Cre­ate a machine that can cre­ate bet­ter machines lead­ing to infi­nite machine intel­li­gence? Or bring down all our intel­li­gence to cre­ate a chip that can be installed into our body, that will let us, humans, become a bet­ter ver­sion of ourselves, with each pass­ing generation.

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