If one thinks back as little as twenty years, or even ten years and considers the technology, it is easy to see that there has been an exponential increase in all sorts of technological research. Computers are becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives. Most people have laptops, tablets, smartphones, or some combination thereof. Even cars and some refrigerators have small computers in them. With all of this comes an increase in our knowledge of automation and artificial intelligence. We’ve already got machines to do our laundry and dishes for us, so that begs the question: what’s next?
Google has created a fleet of self-driving cars that are slowly hitting the streets. Will taxi-drivers soon be a thing of the past as well? While all this innovation is great to see, one must step back and consider the effect that this has on the American workforce. In the self-driving car example, thousands of taxi drivers that depend on the job to make a living would be out of a job. But the same thing happened to many independent seamstresses and cobblers with the advent of factories. With even more jobs being automated by these increasingly “intelligent” machines, is human labor destined to be completely replaced by machines? Futhermore, if we can create intelligent robots to do our work for us, should we?
I choose to reject sensationalist views of AI researchers and enthusiasts who claim that the rise of superintelligence will usher in an era of fear and tyranny when the machines seek to overtake the human race. On the other hand, I believe that autonomous robotic agents can be beneficial to us as a race. If the robots do end up taking over menial labor jobs as some claim, then this opens up new job fields to program and oversee these new intelligences. We will have moved to a more technologically advanced way of life.