Robots could one day pass as humans. Should we let them?

Sophia robot
Robot Sophia speaking at the AI for GOOD Global Summit, ITU, Geneva., Switzerland. Image credit: International Telecommunication Union
[T]oday, ever-sophisticated robots are graduating from Disneyland-style animatronics into increasingly realistic, intelligent beings. Take the famous human replicas of Hiroshi Ishi­guro. Or the theatrical androids from Engineers Arts in the UK, or Sophia, the humanoid without a scalp.

They’re all so entrancing, it’s easy to forget how ethically problematic they could be.


Google ran smack into an early manifestation of those problems last month, when it debuted its Duplex AI-powered voice assistant. The audio algorithm is realistic enough to fool humans into thinking it’s human—and it turns out people don’t like being tricked. Google was forced to clarify that Duplex would introduce itself first as an AI.

[C]onvincing a user that an AI or humanoid robot is human is a dangerous game. “I think it creates the wrong expectation of the experience, and it’s somewhat dystopian,” [Intuition Robotics CEO Dor Skuler] says. “I don’t think we want to live in a world where AIs pretend to be human.”

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But if you do know an android is an android—it’s revealed itself to you—might it be tempting to walk all over them?

It’s not hard to see a future, then, where different types of robots get different levels of respect and affection. Your home humanoid is a beloved companion, while you can treat the front-desk humanoid with a bit less respect.

Read full, original post: We need to talk about robots trying to pass as humans

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