I’m not old enough to feel truly deprived by the lack of robots. Lots of people a bit older than I were promised flying cars and robots and I imagine they are quite annoyed by the lack of them.
Robots are one of those really hard things to program. Voice recognition is hard to program. Handwritting recognition is hard to program. Anyone who has used either will know how far we still have to go. And yet a robot is still supposed to not only listen to us which is hard, not only read what we write which is hard but actually understand what we mean. Surely this is close to impossible. It is wise to never bet against human ingenuity and of course we will have robots of a type in the future. But there are perhaps some reasons why we shouldn’t try.
For a start when the robot was imagined there were a great many tasks that were annoying to deal with. A robot could wash your clothes and do your dishes. Well we now have machines that do that for us. We are getting close to the situation where the only real robot worth having is a robot with deductive reasoning. A robot that can solve problems. One that can understand. But that brings it’s own problems.
Rich people have often wanted slaves and what are learning robots other than slaves? Of course keeping human slaves is worse than keeping robotic ones. However if what we want from a robot is for it to understand us totally then to an extent it must be like us. The moment the machine can learn, which is the only way it could truly understand us, is the same moment it is no longer fair to enslave it.
A dog doesn’t understand a human enough to know what it means. And yet we know we should allow a dog a life to live and love. Anything that can understand us is impossible to control. And we shouldn’t try.