For years now, we have seen the trends – more and more, automation, robotics, and machine learning are working their way into the economic landscape, into entertainment, and into our everyday lives. We need only look at our phones or walk through a self-checkout line at our local grocery store to see how quickly automation and machines are becoming a regular part of the world.
And if you follow these trends to what we believe to be their natural conclusions, you start to raise some really interesting – possibly terrifying – questions about the nature of life and what it will mean for humans when machine learning crosses a certain threshold.
Should we be worried about the rapid rise in automation and machine learning?
That probably depends on where you look.
The Robots Are Coming for Phil in Accounting
Want to feel really worried about the future of jobs in America? Then head over to the New York Times, which recently ran an article with the ominous title above. The premise: Robots and automation have already begun to take over sectors of our economy, and nobody is safe.
While automation is limited now to many factory jobs, customer service, and tasks requiring massive computations in a short period of time, the article predicts that soon many more jobs will be given over to AI.
But the news is not all bleak: While automation could mean the end for certain types of jobs, it can also open the door for new opportunities if the workforce is willing to adapt.
Read the article here: “The Robots are Coming for Phil in Accounting”
Technology is increasing at a fast enough pace now that inventors and developers are not limited to simply automating rote tasks. They are creating machines that replicate humans.
Like these two robots, created by Hanson Robotics – one of them, Sophia, has become famous for her appearances on late-night talk shows. Watch her debate the future of humanity with her robot “brother,” Han:
As you can see during the debate, these robots still have a long way to go before anyone mistakes them for a “real person.” Still, their ability to debate on stage (while prompted by a human moderator) is impressive and indicates rich possibilities for the future.
If you want to talk to a robot but cannot build one yourself, you’re in luck!
You can always set up an AI friend to chat with you through your phone.
That is what one San Francisco-based development company did when they created Replika, and AI that will text or talk with you through the messenger app on your phone.
The best part? The more you talk to Replika, the more it learns about you, leading to deeper and more authentic conversations every time you send a message.
Replika was created following a tragic accident involving one of the developers – it has grown to become a widely used and loved messaging app for millions of users.
“You Look Like a Thing and I Love You“
If you are worried now that robots are going to take over the world and you will soon become a jobless servant for our robot overlords – fear not:
Janelle Shane will put your mind at ease with her funny and entertaining book, You Look Like a Thing and I Love You.
In it, she reminds us of one crucial component to machine learning: When a machine has to learn a new skill from scratch, it will make thousands of hilarious errors along the way.
The line “You look like a thing and I love you” comes from a machine that was programmed to create the world’s best pickup line. If you are single, give that line a shot the next time you are out at the bar. Let us know how it works out for you.
She writes for a blog, AI Weirdness, which captures all the bizarre and ridiculous ways that machines stumble on their way to mastery.
So, maybe we still have a little bit of time.