A leap into Asimovian society
Boston dynamics has become quite famous after the recent take over by the internet giant Google. The work done at Boston dynamics in my opinion, is ground breaking and far ahead in technology than any other country or firm has ventured into. The complex control algorithms mimicking that of real world animals to a high accuracy.
The recent acquisitions of Google spur up an all new thought process. Google acquired a total of 8 companies for their robotics devision. If we look at the details of all these companies we get a fairly clear picture of what google is aiming for - building robots that look, act and work just like humans. The only difference, these new robots never get tired providing high efficiency.
The Bright side:
Google for me has been one of the best open sourced company (NOT FREE). Google has always stuck to the open model of development, Android is one of the best examples. The main reason for the sudden boom in the Android market was due to its open nature. On the same lines, I believe google will keep a part of the development on their robotics division open to users like me. Self driving car is the best example I can find, A complete UdaCity course on building the self driving car.
Since the time I came across the work done at Boston dynamics, I have been inspired and appreciative of the technological progress made. The application of complex control algorithms to robots which has the capacity to mimic nature.
Summing Boston dynamics and the other companies which are equally good at what they do to Google’s intelligence infrastructure is what gives me a completely new picture of our current state.
Basically, I am looking forward to how things progress technically.
The other side:
Unfortunately technology and society go hand-in-hand. As a person of science one must not turn an blind eye to either of the two. So, where does this deal have for society.
As mentioned, there is currently no country or company which can equal Google in the coming years. I specifically mention country to lay emphasis on the fact that Boston dynamics worked for DARPA and Google too has several connections with them (We know it thanks to Snowden). All in all making the USA untouchable/dangerous.
Right now the US is using Drones to target the middle east. But, there are still soldiers required for on foot that need to put their lives at stake. Soldiers include a few honest ones like Bradley Manning who dare to expose the truth. However, having a complete robotic army on the ground will provide allow a corporation be in control.
The constitution evolves over time based on difference experiences. We have intelligent robots in our amidst and what is the law that caters to it? If a robot would commit a crime who and what will be punished? For starters the robots made do not have Asimov’s 4 laws hard wired in them. In the initial stages, until there is an uproar by the people there will be high misuse of robots by those that own them.
If you have read Asimov’s books, you would be familiar with Spacers and Settlers. Though, the books talk about them where, one precedes the other I would like to draw an analogy here. Look at the two groups of people. Those who have/control robots and those who do not. Basically the US Govt. and the rest of the world. We are nothing but spacer and settlers living together. It would be good to read up on the socio-political reasons given by Asimov for why the settlers were wiped out.
What I fear most is we are headed into an Asimovian society without completely understanding the impact of robotics on social and political lives.
Read more here
(I recommend reading Asimov’s books with the idea of understanding how the social and political aspects are dealt with in his books,Here is the reading order)
P.S: If you have anymore thoughts regarding the points I have touched upon I would be interested to discuss.