How Will Robots Change Human Culture

How Will Robots Change Human Culture

 

How Will Robots Change Human Culture
How Will Robots Change Human Culture

How Will Robots Change Human Culture: There are many ways in which I think the influence of social robots could alter our culture shortly. Here are some ways that various thinkers, including myself, anticipate that our culture could change once social robots enter every nook and cranny of the home, schools, the workplace, and every public environment.

There will likely be a significant reduction of drudgery work in the home, and this will lead to more leisure time for everyone, especially women, who do the bulk of household chores. This time could be used for more quality family time, activities with friends, creative endeavors and hobbies, games, and continuing education, a critical need if one is to maintain the skills for a technology-driven workplace. If people don’t find useful ways to fill the time, it could also be used in less healthy ways, perhaps magnifying addictions to everything from drugs and an unhealthy use of the Internet, to less savory activities with robots, such as abusive practices that carry over into human relationships.

 

Robots

 

Because robots are equipped with cameras and sensors and can record continuously, people will have less privacy. The monitoring ability of robots, which could be valuable to a family member who wants to ensure the safety of an elderly loved one, for instance, would increase safety but could be a distressing burden on the person being monitored. To make matters worse, criminals could monitor people in their homes by hacking into their robots. Even family members don’t always have the best motives for monitoring each other. Imagine an excessively jealous mate who feels compelled to watch a husband’s or wife’s every move.

 

Robots tech

 

Robots Change Human
Robots Change Human

People of all ages will emulate robots through simple exposure, plus the tendency to think that robots are smarter than themselves. Shortly, this includes a narrow emotional range that is expressed in a way that’s meant to copy natural human expression but that is artificial. The robot’s expressions are superficial because there is no genuine feeling underlying them. Consequently, we could lose some of the depth and nuance of our humanity because we don’t place a high enough value on it. We may also lose a degree of spontaneity, given that robots are ruled by algorithms crunching data they’ve been fed. They’re not, at least for now, capable of true spontaneity, and as we emulate them, we could lose much of the range of human behavior that keeps life interesting.

Life will be better and more independent for some disabled people and their caregivers. This includes people with autism, who will learn basic social behaviors from their robots, and people with dementia, who may need to be attended to, monitored, and occupied continuously. Many older people will be able to “age in place” in their homes and avoid being placed in a nursing home because of help with their mobility and their ability to maintain a household. People who are paralyzed could have many of their basic needs met by specialized robots who can fetch things and feed, bathe, and transfer them from the bed to a wheelchair and back. And the robots could provide a degree of companionship to people who can’t go out due to their disabilities.

People could become more alienated from each other because of habituation to nondemanding, essentially stunted relationships with robots. Their lowered expectations for what a relationship can be could become a comfort zone, easier and more familiar than human relationships. Artificial relationships could become the “new normal.” Even though these relationships can’t be truly fulfilling, they could prevent some people from making the kind of effort that leads to genuine, worthwhile human relationships. It’s not hard to see how this phenomenon could have a very deleterious effect on marriages and other family relationships if a family member becomes essentially unable or unwilling to work at a real connection.

New subcultures will continue to arise, just as Alvin Toffler predicted. Technosexuals come to mind. However, it’s almost impossible to predict what these will be, just as no one predicted the proliferation of anime or gaming culture, which are so prevalent today. They will be heavily dependent on the emergence of new technologies, the enthusiasm they inspire, and the imaginative capacity of people who use those technologies. Just as in the early days of the Internet, when no one predicted it would give birth to social media, robots will have a comparatively enormous range of possibilities because of their interactive capabilities. The bottom line is that many new subcultures will be based on the sociality of robots and the potentially unique flavor of a new society.

I’d like to close this post on a note of optimism. Robots are likely to be very arresting when they first infiltrate society. No doubt people will be fascinated by them. I expect there will be a period when some people will be obsessed with them, but at some point, they will lose their novelty. Once we have collectively explored all the limits of what robots can do, and have learned to sift through and analyze their true worth, the better humans may measure up against them in many areas. After all, robots as we know them possess only two of the potentially many forms of intelligence that humans are capable of. We may not properly appreciate those many forms of intelligence until robots throw them into bold relief.

After we’ve gotten past a period of learning what robots can and cannot do, we may shift our thinking from an overvaluing of computational intelligence to a renewed appreciation for the other types of intelligence that humans are capable of. Humans are vastly more multidimensional than robots today, and so far, I’m not aware of any groundbreaking technology that is likely to shatter that paradigm. Simply giving robots more computational power and making them better at feigning emotion is a difference of degree, not kind. Someday scientists may make a quantum technological leap that makes robots conscious and multifaceted on a level equal to or superior to humans. But our task today is to be clear-eyed about what we can expect from these sophisticated tools—sophisticated, yes, but tools nonetheless.

Adapted from Robots and the People Who Love Them, copyright (c) 2024 by Eve Herold. St. Martin’s Press.

 

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