Re: Robots Will Get Same Rights as Humans

A report out of the U.K. contends that in about 50 years, robots will

> be given the same rights as humans and even will be expected to vote > and pay taxes.

Go back 50 years and look at some of the absurb stuff predicted about computers (then known as "electronic brains") then never came to pass nor ever will.

We have learned that while it is easy for computers to automate repetitive mundane tasks (like doing the payroll), it is far, far harder to automate subtle human thinking processes. For example, companies that use voice recognition to drive automated response systems are flooded with consumer complaints.

Computers can assist but cannot replace human abstract analytical observation, thinking, and decision making. Computers are ALWAYS locked into the pre-programmed selection; if an observation or decision is not on the pre-existing list, the computer simply can not and will not deal with it. A human is required to handle them. When a business automates any process, it will be ok as long as it has a qualified human on standby for those unexpected unusual situations. The problem is today companies are so intent on cost-cutting they leave out the people.

Thus, when I had to call an out of state Blue Cross agency I had trouble getting through since I was neither their subscriber or provider; the only two choices on the menu. It didn't occur to the programmer to accomodate reciprocal agreements with out of state agencies. (And people wonder why I'm a Luddite).

What's funny about predicting future technology is that predictions not only mess up on what technology can do, they also miss technologies that do occur.

I doubt in 1967 anyone would've predicted consumers would use Star Trek's computer diskettes or telephones only 25 years later, for example, and definitely not dirt cheap.

They did predict widespread computer use, but via simple terminals (a la Touch Tone phone) to big central computers, not powerful individual computers.

I don't think anyone predicted telephone long distance "too cheap to meter" like we have today. They expected a drop in cost but not so radical.

The most important issue to remember is that technologies do not occur in a vacuum. They require consumer acceptance and a workable business model. How many unused Bell Picturephones are sitting in a warehouse?

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