Robots as intelligent as humans
New-generation robotics will increasingly have more autonomy and capacity to react without pre-programming, which complicates all current debates on robotics: the trust and reliance invested in a robot will have to be greater, bringing us closer to the point of being on a par with robots. Neuromorphic chip technology further illustrates this. This is among the most revolutionary developments in AI and a radical step further in computing power. Mimicking the intricacies of the human brain, a neuro-inspired computer would work in a similar fashion to the way neurons and synapses communicate, and potentially be able to learn or develop memory. This would imply that, for instance, a drone equipped with a neuromorphic chip would be better at surveillance, remembering or recognizing new elements in the environment.
However, immediate ethical red flags emerge: building neuromorphic chips would create machines as intelligent as humans, the most superior and intelligent species in the universe. These technologies are demonstrations of human excellence yet computers that think could be devastating for our species and, as Marvin Minsky has put it, they could even keep humanity as pets.
The interest in smart machines is now also pursued in additive manufacturing methods, which are increasingly integrating smart materials into manufacturing. These materials could adapt, change properties, interact or respond to their environments. With 4D Printing, which takes into account the transformation that occurs over time, some materials will adapt and repair by themselves, without maintenance, or they could be pre-programmed to disintegrate on their own. This will raise new questions of standardization, traceability and copyright.
More radical disruptions will occur once the technology transitions to the organic world, making it possible to assemble biomaterials that evolve and develop on their own, design cancer-fighting robots that would release antibodies only in contact with cancerous cells, etc. The moment of the print button for biology is nearing. Effectively, this could also mean that in a not too-distant future, smart pharmacology will permit us to receive a constant supply of anti-depressants or neuro-enhancers every time our dopamine level drops. The ethical consequences of such developments should be thought through. Having our emotions controlled in detail by smart machines will pave the way for dangerous forms of dependences and new understandings of our humanity and the emotions that define us.
· 2 months ago