Google Chairman Sees Bright Future with Robot Integration

by Matt Klassen on March 7, 2014

If science fiction has taught us anything about the future its these two important lessons: First, that robots will one day walk among us, perhaps even integrate into society with us, and second, such integration always ends badly for humanity. In fact, if there’s one theme that permeates such blockbuster films as The Matrix trilogy, the Terminator franchise, and to a lesser extent films like I, Robot, its that humans want to advance artificial intelligence to a point where its knows how to serve our race fully and completely, and that such advanced artificial intelligence can think of far better things to do with humanity than serve it.

But at least one key figure in today’s tech world welcomes a future where robots are integrally integrated into our lives. According to Bloomberg, speaking at the Oasis: The Montgomery Summit Google Chairman Eric Schmidt noted that at some point in the future “robots will become omnipresent in our lives in a good way.” {Italics mine}

To that end, he explained that Google is already working on advanced automation that in theory will “replace a lot of the repetitive behavior in our lives.” Of course there are a lot of people who depend on that sort of repetitive behavior to make a living, meaning even with Schmidt’s rose-coloured glasses regarding the future, it’s not hard to imagine a robotic endgame where humans are simply irrelevant.

As I’ve written about at length, Google is one company that has its eyes firmly set on the future, pouring significant resources into research and development, delving into long-term projects like wearable technology, driver-less cars, and robotics.

The company is understandably tight-lipped about any specifics regarding its plans for a robotic future—here comes that SkyNet nightmare again—but it’s clear from the scale of investment that this isn’t some pet project for Rubin or the company. To that end, over the last few years Google has quietly acquired multiple technology and robotic companies in an effort to create the next generation of robots, building the entire project, both software and hardware, from the ground up. “We’re building systems,” Rubin told the Times in a recent interview. “So one team will be able to understand the whole stack.”

While the search engine giant is reportedly focusing its robotic development on the manufacturing process, much to the chagrin of many gainfully employed people in that industry, it won’t be long until such projects branch out into every facet of human existence.

“The biggest thing will be artificial intelligence,” Schmidt said. “Technology is evolving from asking a question to making a relevant recommendation. It will figure out things you care about and make recommendations. That’s possible with today’s technology.”

My concern, as it always has been, is that such progress, while inevitable, will surge forward unchecked and unabated, with humanity so wrapped up in the notion of progress as an end in itself that it fails to stop and think about the impact such advancement will have. As the quirky chaos mathematician played by Jeff Goldblum states in the blockbuster film Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

While Schmidt didn’t offer any sort of timeline for this robotic future, I will admit that it does strike me as inevitable, my hope now being that robots are “a good thing” for humanity, as Schmidt says, and not a dark dystopian disaster that prompts us to lament such paradigm altering moments as this.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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