Dangerous Idea (continued)
advice if you want to be happy is, find something more
important than you are and work for it.
I think a lot of people prefer the traditional idea that we
get our purpose from on high, somehow. I think that the important
idea here is that you want there to be something more important
than you are, to give you meaning and to make you happy. My
advice if you want to be happy is, find something more important
than you are and work for it.
Do you think that a robot can ever achieve what we would
I think it's possible. I think it may not happen for boring
economic reasons. It's possible for roboticists to make a
robot that weighs less than a pound that can fly by flapping
its wings, and can catch insects and land on a twig with its
little feet. I think that's possible. I don't expect to see
that happen. It would cost billions and billions of dollars
and we wouldn't learn that much. I think that making a robot
that's conscious the way we are is an equally bizarrely expensive
and complicated thing, so I think it won't happen.
have made something that we are going to have a hard time
maintaining our mastery over.
called the Internet.
It sounds as though you're saying that we don't have to
worry too much about robots taking over?
Yes. I think those fears were extremely unrealistic. But
there are perfectly realistic fears. We have made something
that we now are going to have a hard time maintaining our
mastery over. It's called the Internet. It is already of a
complexity and a size that no person and no committee of people
can really understand. It doesn't have goals of the sort that
we imagine these robot masters to have, but it has become
something that we're quite dependent on and that we don't
understand very well.
In Our Image
not sure we will ever be making robots that are a lot
like us, just because we don't need more of us.
You have said that we're all made of these little tiny
robots. Could we make robots with behaviors very much like
I think so. I think it won't happen tomorrow, but certainly.
We're robots. We're big fancy robots.
ALDA: What has to happen before you can get robots to
be more like us, or a lot like us?
Well, first of all, I'm not sure we will ever be making
robots that are a lot like us, just because we don't need
more of us. We don't have to do the full robotic imitator.
In the same way, we understand flight pretty well now, but
nobody's making robotic birds that fly by flapping their wings.
Every exercise in robotics is a huge, huge compromise. You
have to hope that you can find some simple, relatively cheap
way of getting some functionality that nature gets with just
prodigious expense. Let's face it, any complex organism is
just an enormously wasteful and complicated thing with millions
or billions of cells, all doing one special job. Take the
eye. You've got millions and millions of rods and cones. And
we're going to replace those with oh, maybe a million light
sensitive pixels. We're going to cut down by a factor of 10,
by a factor of 100 everywhere we can, simply because life
is short, we want to get the job done.
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