Well, we all knew this day would come: robots are stealing our jobs. The video above is an advertisement for FRIDA, a human sized robot capable of performing a multitude of tasks in a factory setting. Although the video says the robot is meant to work along side humans, most likely the robot will replace us.
Again, we knew this was coming, and I’m sorry if you end up losing your job to FRIDA or WALL-E or Apple’s inevitable iEmployee. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but we also have to think about kind of robots we allow to replace us. It’s fortunate that science fiction has warned us over and over again about robot revolutions. It seems Freda’s programming has safety in mind (see the part of the video about 40 seconds in).
The robot has a directive not to harm humans, and this directive is more important than its instructions to do whatever it’s doing with its hands. Although relatively simplistic, it reminds me of the Laws of Robotics proposed in several Isaac Asimov novels. The first law says, “A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”
Robots cannot break this law, and it’s such a fundamental part of their programming that a human can’t remove it without making the robot entirely useless. So even as robot society grows and expands, the robots always remain peaceful and altruistic. It’s a completely different vision than that of, for example, the Terminator movies.
A company in Taiwan has already started buying FRIDA robots for its factories. No doubt, people will lose their jobs. As I’ve said, we knew this day would come. But at least we can design robots to be safe and friendly, not heartless killers.