Most people are wary of emerging technologies and for a good reason. There is no shortage of conspiracy theories and science fiction on the concept of a robot uprising, where robots will eventually become more intelligent than us and revolt against us. This article aims to correct a few misconceptions about robots to ease some of your worries.
Artificial intelligence is not synonymous with robots
When people think of artificial intelligence or AI, the first things that often come to mind are robots. However, it is not entirely accurate, as not all robots have AI. Some robots are created to do mindless, repetitive work, and their functions are hardcoded into their systems. They are not expected to learn over time. AI is software that allows machines to learn from given data and past experiences. Something as simple as a chatbot is an example of AI.
They are not sent to spy on us
Most people are perturbed to see robots, especially those with built-in cameras, claiming that these are the government’s way of spying on us. The truth is the cameras on robots are likely going to be used for video annotation. In video annotation, a programmer labels elements in the frames of a video reel. This data serves as training for the robot to improve its decision-making skills. While a hacker can access any unprotected camera and use the video feed for nefarious purposes, most sophisticated robots come with ample protection to prevent attacks.
They are not as sophisticated as you think
Most people’s vision of robots is likely similar to those portrayed in the video game Detroit: Become Human. They are visually indistinguishable from humans save for indicators of their true nature, such as LED lights and silicon skin. However, we are decades, maybe even a century, away from creating lifelike robots. The closest we have right now, a robot built by Hanson Robotics named Sophia, is still clearly a robot, down to her monotone voice and unnatural facial expressions. While we will likely get there someday, robots living among us in secret are not something we need to worry about in this lifetime.
Robots are made to make our lives better
People’s most prominent misconception about robots is that they are created to make cheap labor and replace human employees. This is far from the truth. The main reason engineers and scientists are developing robots is because they want to improve the quality of life for people. For example, many robots are being incorporated into the healthcare system to assist patients who need 24/7 care. Unfortunately, robots are also deployed to do tasks too dangerous for humans, like monitoring and cleaning sites with high radiation.
Robots are unique innovations, and it would be a shame to stunt their development just because people are plagued by needless apprehension. So instead, let’s work together to clear up misconceptions and gather support for scientific innovations. If we all educate ourselves first, the world will be a better place instead of letting fear guide our decisions.