Stupid Worse Than Evil? #science #robotics #technology #artificialintelligence #AI

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In my science fiction stories about colonizing Mars, I send robots ahead to prove out construction methods and then work with the colonists. They have an Artificial Intelligence, too, to rely on. It seems unreasonable to write about humanity’s near future in space without robots and AIs.

But are they a good idea?

Some have speculated robots might kill us off even if programmed to create maximum happiness – since humans are a sorrowful lot, an AI might decide eliminating humans would make the world a happier place. Or maybe they’ll just decide we’re too stupid to keep around (which is sorta what happens in The Terminator.)

Or disaster may be our own fault.

HAL - not evil but deadly

HAL – not evil but deadly

Humans can be way too trusting of robots—and that our inclination to follow our robotic overlords could actually be a very dangerous human behavior that needs to be taken into account when designing everything from autonomous vehicles to emergency evacuation tech.

Scientists developing robots to lead people in high-rises to safety in case of a fire discovered people would follow the robot even when it made obviously dangerous and ridiculous errors. We seem all too ready to shift our brains into neutral and follow orders.

I see echoes of this problem in myself. I can no longer remember the date because my phone will tell me. I hop in a car without a thought to where I’m going because the GPS will tell me. I’m ready to hop into a self-driving car, too. Good luck to me.

How about you – ready to let an AI drive you to the grocery store? or fly you to Mars?

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7 thoughts on “Stupid Worse Than Evil? #science #robotics #technology #artificialintelligence #AI

  1. Pingback: The Future Now - 600 Second Saga

  2. I’m totally ready for AI driven cars and flights to Mars.

    I don’t have a large problem with the language thing when it is a long established galactic kind of book. When it is a first contact situation then I want to know how do you even figure it out? Do you have a bunch of situations where parties are talking about very different things? That one side doesn’t even have the ability to think about what the other side is communicating because they don’t have the language for it? I’m not sure that even a babble-fish can fix those things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so right – even the “Me Jane, you Tarzan” sort of thing may not work with an alien. Star Trek Next Gen did a story once where aliens spoke in parables and metaphors – even when each word was in English they couldn’t communicate. I read a short story once (sorry – title and author long forgotten) where humans spend a few months exploring a new planet – every couple paragraphs the alien (an immobile creature) inserted a single letter in the story. At the end the humans all leave never having heard the alien say “hello.” It’s a fascinating problem that most books avoid.


      • I understand why books would avoid it, it is a hard problem, and maybe it isn’t the problem you want to talk about. But, as you said it is a fascinating problem. I think it is a very under explored one. Even speaking the same language and not communicating is a good point. I feel like that happens all the time. How would it not happen all the time with an alien who likely doesn’t have the same needs or desires or environmental pressures.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Especially in TV/movies, I think there’s no time to develop communications – the “space cowboys” and “space indians” have to engage immediately. If the story is really a WWII dogfight (or Pirates of the Caribbean, or cowboys and Indians) with scifi props, who cares about communications? So there are “universal translators” which seem like magic. Books have more time but we’re so used to everyone speaking English that authors don’t always address the problem. Sounds like Star Bridge tackles that issue.
    Maybe scifi authors are lazy?
    I do like Hitchhiker’s Guide’s babble-fish. Handy, and fits the absurdity of the story. 🙂


  4. In Star Bridge (and all through the Chatterre Trilogy) GEA-4 is an android pilot, which creates conflict, yet is helpful. Obviously the series has sci-fi aspects, but fantasy as well.
    One thing that I’ve never understood about TV and movies is why they think aliens will speak English, when not everyone on our own planet speaks/understands the language, so another aspect of this trilogy is learning to accept others and understand them despite cultural and communication issues.

    Liked by 1 person

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