When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:20 pm

franco b wrote:..... machines have always created more jobs than they have destroyed, creating a higher standard of living in the process.


We're approaching a time where robots will be able to take over these new jobs. All these technologies like optical recognition are rapidly progressing and most importantly the intelligence of AI is progressing. Watson beating Jeopardy champions is prime example, that is significant achievement and much larger than most people realize.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: franco b On: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:42 pm

Richard S. wrote:Watson beating Jeopardy champions is prime example, that is significant achievement and much larger than most people realize.


It is still only data storage. Machines have always eliminated jobs. That's the idea. It leaves labor free to do other things which create jobs in their turn. This has led to shorter work days and weeks for higher pay. The revolution in farm machinery has led to lower prices for food and far fewer farmers. It also means that government can collect higher revenue from more efficient production.

A machine can have enormous memory; enough to store billions of chess moves but it can only store what exists,it cant invent what has never existed. I don't think it could have invented the electric light or motor. I do see though the path it would have to take. With enough formulas and data it could simply by brute force come up with solutions. Somebody though has to tell it what solution to look for. Has even the military solved the problem of modern ciphers such as the ones used in everyday use in banking on the web? Then there is the problem of mobility. They are still pretty clumsy.

If and when machines ever get to the point where they can build and maintain themselves and perform all that man does then perhaps that is the final step in evolution where man has evolved into machine. Sure would make space travel easier.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: wsherrick On: Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:02 am

franco b wrote:
Richard S. wrote:Watson beating Jeopardy champions is prime example, that is significant achievement and much larger than most people realize.


It is still only data storage. Machines have always eliminated jobs. That's the idea. It leaves labor free to do other things which create jobs in their turn. This has led to shorter work days and weeks for higher pay. The revolution in farm machinery has led to lower prices for food and far fewer farmers. It also means that government can collect higher revenue from more efficient production.

A machine can have enormous memory; enough to store billions of chess moves but it can only store what exists,it cant invent what has never existed. I don't think it could have invented the electric light or motor. I do see though the path it would have to take. With enough formulas and data it could simply by brute force come up with solutions. Somebody though has to tell it what solution to look for. Has even the military solved the problem of modern ciphers such as the ones used in everyday use in banking on the web? Then there is the problem of mobility. They are still pretty clumsy.

If and when machines ever get to the point where they can build and maintain themselves and perform all that man does then perhaps that is the final step in evolution where man has evolved into machine. Sure would make space travel easier.


Yes, I agree that since Watt invented the high pressure steam engine, Western Civilization has steadily improved as far as convenience and comfort goes. Yet none of these vast advances have increased our ability to be more than we are. People still are concerned about the very same things they were 5,000 years ago. They still worry about having a roof over their head, they still have the need to be loved and have a feeling of significance. They still need to find a greater purpose that is transendant above the mere phyiscal drives and needs of merely existing. They still fear Death above all things. No human advancement has changed any of these things nor ever will. The only difference between now and ages ago is that we have lived in a place and time that allowed the common man to reach those elusive elements of happiness. These higher attainments were once reserved only for the very rich. The rest of Humanity lived short butal lives as they scrambled for the most meager of existances. We take it for granted that the way things have been for the past 200 years or so is the way things will always be. I believe that the notion that we have the right of individual freedom to create and prosper is rare in History. In fact, until the Protestant Reformation and later Enlightenment these ideas never existed. Without the undersanding of how these ideas came to be or why we accept them as concrete realities, the light will go out.
All that being said means only that in order for the march of inventive progress to continue, it must have the environment needed for it to exist in the first place. We are rapidly re-creating a World where the freedom to be creative and profit from one's creativity is being choked out. I firmly believe that Western Civilization is slowly heading to a Neo Mideval state. We are losing our moral and intellectual foundation that allowed the Modern World to emerge at all. The future may look a lot more like Mad Max than Star Trek. The Roman's had running water and central heating. No one had those in the later Middle Ages or even knew they had ever existed.
Last edited by wsherrick on Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:26 am

franco b wrote:
It is still only data storage.


To answer those questions requires more than just knowing the answer, you're not asking it what is 1+1. It needs to be able to analyze and understand the question, it understands language. These machines also learn from their mistakes.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: rberq On: Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:43 am

Richard S. wrote:At some point we will have massive amounts of unemployed people that have been replaced by robots and companies will no longer have consumers able to buy their products. To put it bluntly I don't see how capitalism could survive.

rberq wrote:More and more production by fewer and fewer people, with the profits all going to those who own the machines and robots, etc. Plenty of wealth to make everybody comfortable, assuming there is a mechanism for redistributing the wealth from the owners of capital to the rest of the population. But I don't recall that the writer had any workable suggestions on how to do the redistribution.

Richard S. wrote:The topic is about computers taking over jobs humans do, stick to it.

Hmmmm. Thought I WAS sticking to it, and agreeing with the point "don't see how capitalism could survive". I fully expect computers to attain the ability to "think" on a par with humans, though perhaps not in the same way humans think and without the same emotions. I originally believed, maybe 40 years ago, that it would happen within my lifetime, but now probably not quite that soon. Again, I am not worried about having nothing to do when the computers and robots take over. I don't do a hell of a lot now, and I'm willing to continue. But I think the social issues will be huge. Those with the computers and robots won't care that there are unemployed consumers who can't buy their products, because the computers and robots will provide to their owners all the goodies they need. But without a fundamental restructuring of how our society works, those unemployed consumers will not share in the benefits of computers and robots. The rich will get richer and as you point out even the technicians and programmers will no longer be needed, so they will wind up with nothing. I picture this future as a small elite of "owners" living in untold luxury, with an efficient mechanized / computerized army protecting them, and a giant mass of "everybody else" left to fend for themselves in squalor.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:51 am

rberq wrote:Hmmmm. Thought I WAS sticking to it


That wasn't in reference to your post, there was some others that were removed. Sorry for the confusion. ;)
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: SMITTY On: Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:26 am

Funny how the day after I read this topic, I end up seeing the movie "Surrogates" (which was filmed in the old Worcester courthouse here). It's about robots that people can design to look any way they want, and they put on a headset & live through the robot .... so instead of going to work, your surrogate does all that for you ... and you hang around the house & get fat. At the end of the movie, all the surrogates become disabled by a massive crash of the main server that controls them, and people come out of their houses for the first time in years, looking confused, as the entire world comes to a halt .. :lol:

This would be a huge hit in today's lazy society. Good thing the technology is pretty much impossible.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: franco b On: Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:54 pm

One thing we may be overlooking is that it may not be computer science that creates the ultimate robot, but biology. An algorithm using only four letters has created incredible things. From dinosaurs to man to viruses. When this becomes more fully understood almost anything becomes possible. The ultimate building block.

One thing that I don't understand (among many other things) is how behavior is programed in. A cat that has never seen a mouse will chase the first mouse it sees. A weaver bird that has never seen a weaver bird nest will build a weaver bird nest at the first opportunity. We are programed to be hostile or at least suspicious of strangers, even those from an adjoining town. How to program in an attitude like envy which may cause you to steal your neighbors' goods or on the other hand to work harder to acquire goods with your own effort. It just seems like an infinity of things that behavior responds to that both computer science and biology haven't answered yet and maybe never will.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: wsherrick On: Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:55 pm

franco b wrote:One thing we may be overlooking is that it may not be computer science that creates the ultimate robot, but biology. An algorithm using only four letters has created incredible things. From dinosaurs to man to viruses. When this becomes more fully understood almost anything becomes possible. The ultimate building block.

One thing that I don't understand (among many other things) is how behavior is programed in. A cat that has never seen a mouse will chase the first mouse it sees. A weaver bird that has never seen a weaver bird nest will build a weaver bird nest at the first opportunity. We are programed to be hostile or at least suspicious of strangers, even those from an adjoining town. How to program in an attitude like envy which may cause you to steal your neighbors' goods or on the other hand to work harder to acquire goods with your own effort. It just seems like an infinity of things that behavior responds to that both computer science and biology haven't answered yet and maybe never will.


Perhaps we are designing these robots out of what I believe is the deep and profound desire to obtain the unobtainable. To achieve perfection. The whole push of Human History is to climb back up from our fall from Grace to put it in Christian terms. A living being has the spark of the unknowable, the spark of the Divine. We can make choices. Some of us like Green others like Purple. We have the ability to think in abstract terms. You mentioned the built in knowledge and instinct of animals. Somehow they have those traits put into them. We don't even understand how that happens. We want to be like God and try to create a being in our own image. I don't think it'll ever happen.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: franco b On: Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:46 pm

wsherrick wrote:Perhaps we are designing these robots out of what I believe is the deep and profound desire to obtain the unobtainable. To achieve perfection. The whole push of Human History is to climb back up from our fall from Grace to put it in Christian terms. A living being has the spark of the unknowable, the spark of the Divine. We can make choices. Some of us like Green others like Purple. We have the ability to think in abstract terms. You mentioned the built in knowledge and instinct of animals. Somehow they have those traits put into them. We don't even understand how that happens. We want to be like God and try to create a being in our own image. I don't think it'll ever happen.


Nicely put, but that desire to forever improve things is also programed in. Thoreau lamented that because of the pressures of his civilization he had lost some of the wisdom he had been born with.

There is also the possibility of the hybrid, part man, part machine. The use of artificial limbs or a pace maker are primitive examples.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: jpete On: Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:39 pm

I know people worry about this stuff, but if no one has a job because they were put out of work by a robot, what will the robots need to make?
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:36 pm

franco b wrote:There is also the possibility of the hybrid, part man, part machine. The use of artificial limbs or a pace maker are primitive examples.


Not exactly the bionic man but exoskeletons have been reality for some time. It mimics the wearers actions so they could for example carry a backpack weighing hundreds of pounds. The military applications are quite obvious, so are the medical ones because it could allow someone in a wheel chair to walk.



Who needs humans though? :P These are a little creepy, the arm movement in the first one is very human like and in the second one the guy gives it kick and you'd think it was human the way it recovers.



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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: franco b On: Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:32 am

Very impressive the exoskeleton is best. Power supply I think would be a major problem.

The human looking robot I think is a major mistake and probably done to attract grants. it could not walk or even support itself. To mimic human arm movements is clever, but why, unless you are trying to make human like robots, again why. Just as machine tools are a kind of robot that take a human craft and do it better and with greater precision without looking anything like a human, then why create a human like robot that is probably good for nothing. The form has to follow function to have any value.

The four legged robot is still pretty primitive when compared to a goat. Notice the constant up and down movement of the legs for no reason. It's a blind machine feeling its way which might have value with human guidance.

The brain has to come first before all that mechanical ingenuity. We already have mechanical ingenuity, we need the brain. Whether that brain will mimic in function a biologic brain or a digital one is the question, and formulating the questions or even knowing the questions to ask is a major task since we still have so much to learn about a simple insect brain. I suspect success will come with a completely different system.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:38 am

franco b wrote:
The human looking robot I think is a major mistake and probably done to attract grants. it could not walk or even support itself.


It can support itself and walk. It's tethered but there is no support.








This one can run, more like a fast walk but you can see in the slow motion when both feet are off the ground:





To mimic human arm movements is clever, but why, unless you are trying to make human like robots, again why. Just as machine tools are a kind of robot that take a human craft and do it better and with greater precision without looking anything like a human, then why create a human like robot that is probably good for nothing. The form has to follow function to have any value.


Well one reason you could justify making them human like is for medical purposes, something like this could eventually give people legs and arms. They are all experimental, makes no difference what form they take. The point is to do it. The form will come afterward when the tech is used for practical technology.
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Re: When Humans Become "Obsolete", What Then?

PostBy: franco b On: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:44 am

Valid points. The third robot by Toyota was clearly the best, requiring no tethers or remote power supplies. It did reinforce my view that private industry does it better.

You are right in that sometimes it is good to experiment with something far out without a clear goal.

I had forgotten that the Laser was once called "a solution in search of a problem".

I do have a bias, and I suspect it is a certainty and not a bias against the enormous sums given to universities in the belief that by some happy chance something of value will be produced. That serendipity will strike. No doubt there is a long list of that happening in the researches of NASA and the universities, but at what cost?

There is a much longer list of that happening in private industry at no cost to the public. An example is the sequencing of the human genome where a private co. did it faster and better at no cost to the public.

Sorry to be steering this off the topic by bringing in politics but politics has made itself a large part of what should be science.
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