Hold on to your spaceships, ladies and gentlemen, the Future is upon us. The days of “Interactive Features!” being a selling point are long gone and we are set to embark on the new horizon: Computer People. That’s right. Robots.
We’ve oohed and ahhed at Self-Driving Cars, Google Glass, 1st person shooter games, 3D Printing, 4-D Full Motion Virtual Reality theme park rides, paying for things with your cellphone, Netflix, dubstep, and latte art long enough. Over in Munich, they’ve deployed ever-growing populations of Artificially Intelligent (AI) robot s to factories and medical care facilities to take over the work.
Speculatively, to ease the tension of unfamiliarity, and possibly resentment related to job loss, last March, Japan and France presented each of their own convincingly human-like robots, “humanoids”, to patrons of the world’s largest travel show.
However, with every advancement, there’s always a potential for error or misuse. There have been longstanding cases and debates regarding privacy and responsibility since the Internet became “normal”, we’ve discussed developing the framework for the legalities surrounding autonomous cars, albeit without much motion, and, even in the earliest stages, Munich has identified the same need for these new “worker-bots”.
“Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability”, a draft European Parliament motion suggests. The same motion called on the European Commission to consider “that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations”. They would have jobs, be linked with funds, “to cover their legal liabilities”, and never have their parents ask when they plan on having children. However, managing director of the VDMA’s robotic and automation department, Patrick Schwarzkopf, said: “That we would create a legal framework with electronic persons – that’s something that could happen in 50 years but not in 10 years.”
Germany’s VDMA concedes that the proposals are “too complicated and too early”. A lot still needs to happen before we give machines legal rights and responsibilities.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the prospective robotic workforce, with the main concern being job security among the flesh-and-bloods. The 8 hour work week has been fully ingrained into our culture and most citizens say they “have to have a job”, citing the number one reason as “because I need to pay bills.” As a result of feeling the burn of Social Expectation, a house, a phone and a car are among the bare necessities, and in an already crumbling economy, less employment means less house, less phone, less car.
To address this, the draft motion states that organizations should have to declare any financial savings gained by using the robotics instead of people, for tax purposes. In response to concerns regarding unemployment, Schwarzkopf points out that employment rates among people rose 13 percent between 2010 and 2015, while industrial robot stock in the industry also rose 17 percent during the same time period.
Previous studies have pointed out high suicide rates among factory workers and medical care associates, probably due to the typically high stress environment, which could suggest that building automated parts that are both capable of learning and, at this stage, without defiance, would be in the best interest of the future Co-Workers of America.