Monday, May 11

#19 - robotic uprising


You work at a large, thriving robotics lab. Your current project involves miniature diagnositc devices, small robots that can be inserted into a patient's body to check for disease or monitor a wide range of bodily functions. Your research is going well and your hope is that thousands of lives will be positively impacted by these robots if their design and use can be successfully implemented.

One night you have a very strange, disturbing dream. You are given a vision of the future, decades from today, in which robots have become self-aware and have naturally enslaved the human race.

You awake with an oppressive sense of dread, one that does not lift even days later. For reasons unexplained, you are certain that this future is likely (even unavoidable) if events continue uninterrupted, and that your current work is a pivotal factor. In your dream, the tiny diagnostic robots were instrumental in the robotic uprising, for they were able to gather precise and exhaustive information on human biology and its weaknesses.

You could easily think of ways to sabotage your project to prevent this scenario from coming to pass, but you would at the same time be setting back medical science and any other advances that could come about as a result of your work. You are wary of bringing up the topic of robotic self-awareness to others, sensing that it could damage your credibility, but your fears persist. What action, if any, do you take?

6 comments:

Sheila said...

I don't think that I could continue with my work. Perhaps someone else would anyway, but at least I would have not been a part of it. Or maybe it would kind of be like the "inventors" of the cigarette... we don't think badly of them because they didn't know the devastating effects at the time...

Either way, I think I would have to step out because I couldn't live with the potential effects. Ironic, considering my tendency toward criminal defense :-p Maybe I should rethinking that.. or this.

Ry said...

My dreams have come true exactly never, so I'm not sure I'd really be concerned about this. Assuming I do consider this to be a credible threat, there are still a number of ways to look at it.

1: If Summer Glau is going to help me prevent the robot uprising, I'll do whatever is necessary to stop it.

2: The thing about technology is that it rarely depends solely upon the work of one person. Even if I remove myself from the project, or even sabotage it, someone else will continue my work, and we're still borked. Diagnostic nanobots have been a dream of science for ages--eventually, it'll happen. The best bet is to drum up some sort of research supporting the idea that we should never, ever do this under any circumstances, ever, and hope to beat technological advance with bureaucratic mire.

3: Accept the fate of humanity and install myself, as the creator of the nanobots pioneering the revolution, as a god to the machines, thus ensuring my safety and continued revered status for millenia.

Pietro said...

If there's anything I've learned from J.J. Abrams and his ridiculous story-lines, it’s that the future is determined by every single event leading up to that moment. I would keep working, but keep my dream in mind.
I'd probably make sure I stay a part of the development of these nano-robots so I can intervene when the moment presents itself. One idea would be to intervene by putting a lot of communication restrictions between the nano-robots and the computer network.

Matt said...

I like Pete's train of thought. Keep working, but maybe start designing a bunch of fail-safes into the system.

Amy said...

I'd like to say that I'd rebel and destroy the lab in a furious act of aggression, but honestly I would probably ignore the dream. I don't really believe in dreams coming true. The sleeping kind of dreams of course, not the aspirations for your life kind. I think those can still come true.

Matt said...

On the subject of robots...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/science/26robot.html?em