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Can a robot become human? What will it be like to interact with an intelligent Robot? And how will we know when we do?

Not IF but WHEN . . . What if a Robot develops a mind of its own? And how should Human Beings respond to that?

As a starting point, I reference the work of science-fiction author Isaac Asimov and his 3 Laws of Robotics. The Three Laws are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

A zeroth law was added later:
0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

In 2011, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of Great Britain published a set of five ethical "principles for designers, builders and users of robots."

1. Robots should not be designed solely or primarily to kill or harm humans.

2. Humans, not robots, are responsible agents. Robots are tools designed to achieve human goals.

3. Robots should be designed in ways that assure their safety and security.

4. Robots are artifacts; they should not be designed to exploit vulnerable users by evoking an emotional response or dependency. It should always be possible to tell a robot from a human.

5. It should always be possible to find out who is legally responsible for a robot.

The above five ethical principles are NOT the same as Asimov's three laws. But is this enough? And how will we know when the time comes.


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  • May 23 2013: Robots will never become humans, however some day robots will blend with humans... Imagine nano-machines healing ill cells, repairing broken bones and all sorts of injuries, cleaning your teeth no need to brush, trimming you nails, keeping your hair at the same length, defending you from mosquitoes and other nasty bugs, improving your senses and giving you new ones.

    Regarding your second questions, if someday a robot with "human like" intelligence is developed, interacting with them will be just like interacting with another human being, so the answer to your third question is: if you are able to tell a robot from a human, then the robot is not really intelligent (in a human context), in other words you won't be able to tell a human being from an intelligent robot.
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      May 23 2013: Hi George QT
      When you mention nanobots, I suddenly get visions of the comic strip character "Pigpen."
      Remember Pigpen of the Peanuts (Charlie Brown/Snoopie) comic strip and T.V. series? If you did not grow up in the U.S.A. you might not be familiar; although I have seen Spanish dubbed/translated versions of the cartoons. Anyway, Pigpen never took a bath. He walked around with a cloud of flies buzzing around him. Or if not flies, then smaller insects like gnats.

      I guess if the nanobots are microscopic, like the size of a leukocyte (white blood cell) then it would not be so bad to host a colony of nanobots to clean my teeth, trim my nails/hair, remove cholesterol plaque from my coronary arteries (thus preventing heart attacks), and healing my bones. I suppose if the nanobots could somehow recycle/process liquid & solid bodily waste for us, that might be good. No more restroom trips!

      But the bigger the nanobots got, the more annoying they could be! Anything the size of small insects could be really a pain!

      My pet theory is that about half the "entities" who post on TED are A.I. Half the people who post here are, in fact, internet based artificial intelligence(s). Think Turing Test and ask yourself: Was this post written by a human being? Or was it written by an Artificial Intelligence designed to mimic human thought. I think a computer program could be written with sufficient complexity to do it. Such a program could be endearing.

      I spent a significant amount of time on two of the other TED conversations. And I was able to identify 8 to 10 characteristics that made it more rather than less likely that the host of the conversation was a computer program. But without a "control" or a known A.I. for me to interact with, there is no way to add any validation to my observations. So for all the foreseeable future, my theory of an A.I. TED-bot shall only be a premise for Science Fiction.
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        Jun 3 2013: Two things

        One about nanobots: "But the bigger the nanobots got, the more annoying they could be! Anything the size of small insects could be really a pain!"
        You've clearly not heard of the "Grey Goo" and if you don't like apocalyptic theories I advice that you not click the link and never ask anything more about it. Scarred the s*it out of me when I first heard of it ten years ago.

        Secondly was the profile you suspect of being a bot holding any religious viewpoint?
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          Jun 3 2013: Two replies to two things:

          First, something like "grey goo" was present at the origin of life on Earth. Maybe in 1000 years or so we will have something like Grey Goo to work with. We'll probably use it to terra-form asteroids or something. First the Grey Goo, then larger nanobots to process further, then construction nanobots to do the 3D printing thing of "things." Then come structures and places for people to live.

          But if you understand Darwinian natural selection -- all life on Earth is, in fact, the "Grey Goo" that is consuming this entire planet. I call that "Gray Goo!"

          In other word, a valid view of Ecology is to conclude that the Ecology itself, i.e. the biomass of all living things -- is just out there eating ALL of it! Biomass on Planet Earth = Gray Goo!

          It's kind of a "Been there, Done that!" kind of thing.

          As to the second thing, "Religious Viewpoints," a virtual intelligence espousing religious viewpoints would probably be the most difficult to detect. Religious viewpoints are inherently anthropomorphic. That is to say, they " . . . attribute both the eye and hand of God" to fundamental processes that are operating in ways that Science is best equipped to understand. When Isaac Newton was working on his theory of gravity, his contemporaries theorized that planets were propelled in their orbits by "angels beating their wings." That's anthropomorphic.

          No, gravity is a phenomena studied by Physicists. Angels are a myth studied by theologians.

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