This year experts from Elon Musk to Stephen Hawking warned about the havoc robots could cause the economy and humanity. How do we ensure machines are friends rather than foes?
Ever since IBM’s Deep Blue defeated then world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game contest in May 1997, humanity has been looking over its shoulder as computers have been running up the inside rail. What task that we thought was our exclusive preserve will they conquer next? What jobs will they take? And what jobs will be left for humans when they do? The pessimistic case was partly set out in the Channel 4 series Humans, about a near-future world where intelligent, human-like robots would do routine work, or stand on streets handing out flyers, while some people worked (law and policing seemed to get a pass, mostly) but others were displaced – and angry.
In May, Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment, described the concern for both white- and blue-collar workers as that Humans-style world approaches: “Try to imagine a new industry that doesn’t exist today that will create millions of new jobs. It’s hard to do.”