WHAT IF THEY TAKE OVER THE WORLD?

To be very frank my exposure to robots is absolutely zero. Whatever knowledge I have is from the movies my husband and children are a huge fan of. After my marriage and kids I have been on a staple diet of movies like The Terminator series, The Transformer Series, The Star Wars Series, The Iron man series etc.

If you have seen any of these movies the robots are tall towering or having huge physical strength or having weapons to mass destruct the humans.

  • In the Terminator Series the robots decide to take over the world and the humans are the resistance fighting with the robots
  • In the Transformer Series the Autobots and Decepticons are two warring communities of Robots that can transform themselves into cars. The Autobots are friendly with humans but Decepticons are out to take over the Earth and destruct the humans.
  • The Star Wars Series has all sorts of aliens and robots some are friendly but most are not.
  • Iron man has an operating system JARVIS which is almost like human. The hero Tony Stark creates robots and other inventions which at times turn rogue and again are out to (Again) destroy humans.

So frankly speaking I am paranoid about something like the SkyNet (from terminator) taking over the world. We are creating robots that are faster than humans, have more abilities, are more powerful etc. What if they decide that they are superior to the humans and they don’t require the humans? Hope we don’t make a Frankenstein that starts considering the humans dispensable.

I don’t know if it is plain paranoia or is there a real chance of such a thing happening. Recently I read an article about the Facebook and Google using Artificial Intelligence and the AI producing more program code which the humans are having a tough time following / decoding. What if it keeps building on over it and reaches a stage where we don’t know what is being coded. Anyways I always feel irritated that the AI in FB decides whose comments will be seen on my FB wall.

There have been incidents in which Alexa has accidentally recorded some private conversations in the house and sent it to someone else. Ok this was an error but what if someone deliberately programs it to eavesdrop on us.

Given a choice I would prefer interacting with a human rather than a robot. I know humans have their own shortcomings but at least I know how to deal with them.

On the other hand, I am sure that many of you will be thinking that I am being too old fashioned or rigid in my thought process. Even my family thinks so. My eldest son wants to be a robotic engineer, and make a Iron Man Suit of his own. So I might as well make peace with them.

Robots are here to stay; they will definitely be a part of our future. Alexa and Siri are already being widely popular. Only thing is I hope the future engineers keep sufficient safeguards on their inventions.

I am not being a doomsday announcer I am just being skeptical about the robots.

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ROBOT – I WANT THEM MORE

Satisfaction in the Magnificence of Human Mind

It was a winter evening, I was in Shibuya, Tokyo and I went to Henna Café. I was wondering as I waited for the Manager to come so that I can order for a cup of coffee but I find no one around. Suddenly, Barista turned to me and said, “Good evening Sir, Welcome to Henna Café”

Me: (Yelling…) Manager… Manager…
An unknown man from behind: Yes Sir, I am the owner of this Café. Don’t worry.
Owner: Sir, this is Robot Barista to help you.
Owner: Barista, Sir is our foreign guest, please take good care of him.
Barista: Sir, What do you like to have?
Me: One Café Latte.
Barista: Okay Sir, can you please wait for a minute.
Me: Okay. Here is 320 yen.
(In a few minutes, Barista came with a cup of Café Latte and a Forbes magazine)
Barista: Excuse me, Sir, here is your Café Latte. Have a good time!
Me: (in a fearful tone) Okay… okay.
While having Coffee the Owner from the corner table walked to my table and asked, Excuse me, Sir, How is Coffee?
Me: (in a very comfortable tone) Oh, it’s quite rich and tastes awesome!
Owner: Thank you, Sir. Are you new in the town?
Me: Yes, I’m an Indian and have come here for some work.
Owner: Oh…Indian! Very nice people. I love India.
Me: Thank you. If you don’t mind can I ask you a question?
Owner: Yes Sir, Please feel free.
Me: Why you do not have any human staff? Why Robot?
Owner: Sir, One robot is equal to four human staffs… Moreover, I have Robots to do all our works because I believe this way we can be more productive and can serve better coffee at a reasonable price.
Me: Wow… that’s a great idea! By the way, can I touch your Robot? Oops, I mean Barista…
Owner: (laughingly…) sure, Sir, you can.
Barista: (with a thank you card), Thank you, Sir, Please visit us again.
Me: (grinning), Thank you, Barista.
I touched Barista’s head and found it doesn’t give electric shock like my steam iron. Again I touched his hand…wow, it doesn’t give electric shock at all. Let me shake hand with him and see. 

Blue lights blinked on Barista’s eyes and he said, happy to meet you, Sir.

Wow…what a sophisticated imagination!

It was just my imagination but that is what happens in many Elite Cafés, Hospitals, Homes, Restaurants, Institutions, and majorly the I.T. Offices. Probably, in another couple of decades, we all will have our personal robots in our homes and offices just like we have smartphones today. The world with Robotic technology is wonderful and can lead us to INTELLIGENCE and PRODUCTIVITY.

Isn’t so amazing to see the magnificence of the human mind! A few days back I came to know our scientists have already invented robots which can be used by humans for copulation. That’s so bizarre. Yet, the human doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned in making our lifestyle More Sophisticated – More Enjoyable – More Affluent.

We human are hooked by the ultimatum – “THE MORE”. Satisfaction has become the ultimate pursuit of our life. The finitude of our human strength smells us like rotten eggs.

WHEREAS, The Bible says,

“As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.”

God created humanity in His own image but He has also bounded him with finite wisdom and strength. Let’s enjoy life in its finitude instead of trying to fill the bottomless pit – SATISFACTION OF HUMAN HEART.

HUMAN AID + HUMANOID = GREAT RESULTS

Research is something I rarely do.  When the current topic of  Robots / Humanoids – their intrusion or inclusion in our lives was tossed up I was told this would require me to do some research.  The only humanoid I know is Chitti ( not even 2.0) from the movie Robot (Indian movie).  I was a bit reluctant for you know I am lazy at another level.  But going deep into the description about what we are expected to write about it I found it really interesting, so decided to “Hail Google”.

Well not beating around the bush and coming to the point I was very much interested to see how a robot or humanoid can prove or proving to be helpful for kids with special needs. As I scrolled down different pages available on the internet. It was really interesting to see how the introduction of humanoids is registering their importance in helping kids with special needs. Learning and communication have seen evident levels of improvement. And one thing I noticed is that as I was surfing different pages content of every page was different as in the countries where experiments were done, the robots involved, the figures and so on. Let me share a few examples :

  • International Robotics founder and President Robert Doornick says robots are especially effective at teaching socialization skills to autistic children. When kids interact with robots, he says, they “no longer worry about being criticized or judged by their behaviour or inadequacies, and are free to interact with a robot because it’s just a cool toy.” – This one is from the US.

La Trobe University Professor Rajiv Khosla with Matilda

  • Companion robot Matilda helps Australian teachers create engaging learning environments for special needs students while improving their cognitive skills – an example from Australia. 

 

developmentally disabled nj student getting help with robot
  • Meet “Alphabot,” our very own, interactive, 23-inch-tall humanoid robot who offers many new, exciting possibilities for students at Alpha School. This small, but mighty special education teaching tool is opening doors to the minds of our students.  This is in New Jersey. 
  • Source: Google

So every page I checked into opened up a can of new ideas for me about how can my child get benefitted if at all we introduce a robot to him.  My child is autistic and obviously, socialization and communication are the blocks we are working on to tumble them as effectively as we can.  With school and weekly sessions after schools through things moving in right direction no matter how slowly I am just wondering what could be the impact of having a big talking toy taking charge of effective interaction with my child in the way he likes (don’t think I am a billionaire, I am just toying with the idea)

As far as I know, my child, he does get attracted towards anything mechanical but his interests never sustain for a long time.  For example a few months back we bought him a musical keyboard as I saw him interested in the same. For the first few days, he did play it, experimenting with different keys and kept himself engaged. As the keys no longer seemed to be suspense for him his interest waived off.  On the other hand, he is still interested in the tablet (only watches for about 30-45 minutes in a day) as the visuals and the sounds are more interactive in the sense he sings along, learns along.  There are many things like names of colours, animals & their sounds, numbers, alphabets, rhymes etc that he learned from YouTube apart from what we teach him.  Going by what I saw I believe a fully loaded humanoid with artificial intelligence in the techniques concerning a kid with special needs could be of great help. The peculiar voice (for machine nevertheless it is and I would prefer it that way only) will be the first thing to engage his interest and with a toy interacting with him just the way he likes it communication is something I am expecting to improve.

Another area that slightly lacks my investment is spending time with my son.  Though I try my level best to keep him engaged with me in many ways – cooking or plain talking or activities but I often sense that the amount of time devoted is less than what it takes, thanks to the circle of chores. A humanoid fully functioning for him I can be sure of the time spent interacting.  And with the controls in our hand, his safety is something we can be sure of.  And I also believe a robot can be an immense help in controlling him physically amidst his meltdowns.  And who knows if it could give him a massage which I am unaware of targeting the correct points calming him down effectively.  With my strength obviously on a descending note over the years to come to a helping hand handling him will a big advantage for obvious reasons that the involvement of a machine will surely pause his agitated momentum and he will take notice calmly.

Not just about communication I believe these mechanical replacements to human aid can go a long way in making them independent as in not dependent on any human being for their daily little needs. For instance, my son now daily throws a tantrum to brush his teeth which I feel is a result of his oversensitivity to things, in this case, the feel of brush on his teeth or gums.  It’s a constant fight for me to make him brush his teeth, he really gets upset and tries to use violence (just flapping hands to ward off me) to escape it. Things could be different if it’s his toy friend in place of me. He can hold him more firmly and possibly get it done more smoothly.  Might assist him in things like dressing up, wearing shoes, cooking up his breakfast and so on making him more and more independent.  And that’s all in care for when I am gone.

 

Though an idea but I would say a wonderful one with a possibility of yielding better results when in tune with responsible humans for humanoids at the end of the day need commands/programming, for their processes thoughts are a result of our thought process.  What say? I would love to have such a humongous toy for my son to be with him for life.

PUBG WOES

Arnold Schwarzenegger, did it I spell it right? For once, Yes. So he became my first favourite Hollywood star, why? Because he was The Terminator, the perfect Cyborg from future we all wanted to see, one that would be perfect, that what do things beyond human capabilities, that would answer most complicated questions, follow orders without question and kill without remorse. Yeah, I too cried in the end scene when he goes down the molten lava pit, but before that, he said something unforgettable, “I now know why you cry, but it is something I can never do.” and we knew that even though we love everything about a robot, it can never simulate human emotions and replace humans.

Who doesn’t love Technology? Everything from our phones to our fridge is getting smarter by the day, the brighter, the better. We enjoy the privilege, it eases our workload, our stress but would we tolerate technology replacing us? In schools as teachers, in hospitals as doctors, and kitchens as the chef. Wouldn’t that take out the element of uniqueness and surprise out from the equation. God made billions of us, each one different from the other, can we achieve that diversity? Every two writers have a different set of readers, why, because of their uniqueness. Can bots provide that connectivity, make us root for a character and cry for it? If a bot learns your mothers’ recipes and makes them the same way, would you be satisfied, won’t you be missing the loving touch of a mother?

Today everyday 3 million play PUBG, including myself. What is so addictive about the game? The answer is a human-like simulation, but the keyword here is LIKE, they can only kill, they can’t love unless we programme them to do so. The other day I was playing with my friend, and he was in the opposite team, I wanted to shake hands with his character, but I could only wave, that is how the characters are programmed, I was a bit disappointed but that was not all, he was on the other team, that meant I had to kill him to win the game, but I didn’t want to kill his simulation. I was thrown out of my team for bringing real emotions in a game. It’s fine until it’s all fun and games, but we know that in some part of the world, someone is using this technology to turn a man against man, to create the ultimate weapon and that won’t be fun like PUBG.

I have also played the famous The Sims game, and I know what it does to people. We vicariously try to fulfil our unfulfilled desires through our simulations, exacting revenge by naming our Sims by our foes names. We enjoy being God and what cruel Gods we prove to be. But at some point we realise, that my Sim can’t lie down next to her lover and have pillow talk, they can’t share the same meal from the same plate, they stand for each other through thick and thin.

I have seen movies like AI, Her and Bicentennial Man, each one made me cry. They all portrayed Robots turning an emotional leaf, feeling things like human beings, but the Human-Bot relationship never had a happy ending. AI was woven around a robot who was a child and had child-like traits, but they programmed him to imprint on the human mother like a real child. Later in the movie, when the mother had to abandon him, his search for his mother and the yearning to feel her love was heartbreaking.

Slowly, eventually, we are wrapping our minds around the idea of AI in our daily lives through various means. We like it or not, the coming generation will take to robots like fish takes to water.

All these examples when seen through juxtaposition prove one thing in common, Robots should remain limited to our gadgets, for the good of their development and safety of the human race. Their intervention with the real world can end up in a catastrophe. Phlegmatic like Simulation from PUBG or impassioned like Samantha of Her, they will never be able to know right from wrong like human beings.

You can teach a robot that theft is wrong and thief should be punished, but who will preach them that a child stealing sweets from the kitchen isn’t theft. You can train them to be great doctors but how will they learn that you can’t tell a dying man he is dying to his face.

We are a creation of God; we are a complex species with an amalgamation of good and evil, love and hate, vice and virtue. We have been given immense power, and that power is free will, and like all powers, this power too comes with a responsibility. The responsibility to make the right choice. And no matter how hard we try, our creation can’t beat his’.

Hasta La Vista Baby!

HOW LONG CAN I SUSTAIN INTERACTING WITH MOXI?

A Hospital Scenario – in 2029

I was admitted to the hospital again for the extraction of my thick blood as I was having extreme discomfort for the high viscosity of my blood as usual. My brother arranged everything in his hospital for me as always. And while waiting for a nurse or a medical staff  to make an IV channel on my wrist I fell asleep on the hospital bed.

After some time, as I was still asleep, I heard a conversation between my wife and someone very strange. My subconscious mind was trying to grasp what the conversation all about.

My wife: “Is there no one else to do the procedure?

Robo: “Ma’am, I am assigned to do the procedure.”

My wife: “How can you do that? Who’s there to operate or manage you?”

Robo: “Ma’am, I am automated and there’s no one who can operate me.”

My wife: “Hey, see… wake up… Please call your brother and ask him to come here… I am so worried…

I felt someone trying to wake me up… And I woke up to see my wife with a nur…se… What… I could not believe what I saw. It was quite evident why my wife was so worried. I was scared too. It was a robot, not any female or male human nurse. I searched for my phone and called up my doctor brother and asked him to come to that ward immediately. But he blatantly refused to come as he was busy in a surgery and asked me to stay calm, “Moxi will handle everything“.

Who’s Moxi?” I retorted.

The humanoid robot nurse who’s very efficient and accurate to make IV lines on your wrist and draw the blood out ” He assured before hanging up.

Moxi stared at me and asked, “Are you ready, Sir?” I replied, “I am not, but you can go ahead…” And it started making IV line on my left wrist despite of our worries and anxieties… But to my amazement I didn’t even feel it when it finished making the IV channel. My confidence on Moxi increased and I assured my wife that this Robo is a genius.

Later a female nurse appeared in that ward, patted Moxi as it greeted her and she started speaking to me…

Sir, Dr. Panda sent me to assure you that Moxi is fantastic and very efficient much more than me or any human nurses. Moreover,  as a friendly, sensitive and intuitive robot, Moxi not only alleviates clinical staff of routine tasks but does so in a non-threatening and supportive way that encourages positive relationships between humans and robots.

New Image
Moxi with its colleagues

She spoke again as we both husband and wife curiously listened to her… “Don’t you like how Moxi performed the procedure on you, Sir?” She winked at Moxi and the robo winked back at her.

I nodded to her, gritting my teeth as Moxi finished the procedure of bloodletting with such an ease without even letting me feel a bit of pricking pain of the needle. I agreed to the nurse about Moxi’s efficiency. My fear subsided and I saw my wife had already started interacting with ever friendly Moxi. I was amused seeing how Moxi combated my wife’s arrows of questions by replying all her queries paitiently, intelligently and tactfully.

I was discharged from the hospital that day after the procedure, thanking Moxi for being so caring, friendly and efficient with the procedure I underwent. Guess what? It acknowledged my appreciation politely.

A humanoid companion, Pepper the robot has been first launched and put to work in two hospitals in Belgium, assisting medical staff with daily tasks. It was regarded as the first Robo to recognize human emotions. The basic model of these robots is available for around €1,800 ($2,000) and was launched by Aldebaran Robotics back in 2014 to much fanfare in Japan.

Belgium’s Zora Robotics

There’s an advanced and much more expensive next-generation version of Pepper, installed with software by Belgium’s Zora Robotics to help it function within a medical workspace, has now had its first experience carrying out duties within a hospital.

The advent of humanoid robots like Pepper and Moxi can really bring the efficiency level of services provided by the hospitals to the highest level but I was just wondering how I would have felt if I would have been under the care of robots all around me in the years like 2001 or 2005 or 2017 when I stayed in the hospital for more than a week!!! I understand for a one-day procedure the care managed by Moxi is fine but will I be fine if I had to stay with it for more than a week? 

I remember, on the day of surgery in 2001 when Sarah, the nurse woke me up at 4 AM in the morning asking me to take bath and get ready, my heart was racing and pounding heavily, my face was looking utterly pale. And when I was leaving the ward for the OT she clasped my hand and said, “Chiradeep, see you soon after the surgery… we will be praying for you“. That gave me so much strength that day. When I came back to the ward after surgery there were smiles on everyone’s face, welcoming me back absolutely fine.

Probably, Moxi being such an advanced Robo would have done the same thing as Sarah and other nurses did… But would I have felt that connection with it as I felt with Sarah and others?

Some may think that for an introvert Robot is a better option. I being a super extrovert would find it difficult without other humans around me. But as far as my knowledge about the introverts is concerned they crave for interaction even if they are unable to convey it as better as the extroverts.  

I would definitely struggle with a robot if I have to spend more than a days time in the hospital. 

I remember one Bible verse in connection to this subject: The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone”This verse not only implies man’s bonding with a woman in marriage but also talks about the secrets of human survival that is – being with each other. Even we know, social science says, “Human is a social animal”. They really can’t survive without each other. And being with a robot is nothing more than to be alone.

I like what Aastha said in her conclusion, – Robot or Human companionship? then, human companionship. Nothing or Robot? then, Robot. 

If in future I happen to meet Moxi in the hospital and it asks me, “What else I can do for you, Sir?” Then my response would be, “Would you mind bringing a female human nurse to me as soon as possible, Moxi darling?” 😛

A COUNSELING ROBOT

Rashmi, Sophia,  Ursula, Topio, Nao, Enon and Atlas are proud to belong to the same fraternity. They are miles apart from each other and have never got the opportunity to interact. But, all of them are quite skilful in their jobs and have earned much name and fame. They are, however, highly achievement-oriented and strive hard to improve their skills with each passing day. Though they are unaware of each other’s existence, someday they are sure to share the stage – maybe hold hands and proudly wave at the world flashing beaming smiles with glistening teeth to the thunderous applause of us all.

Well, if you haven’t been able to figure out the identities of those mentioned above, they are Humanoid Robots. They have human looks with a head, a torso, two hands and two legs and are programmed for higher order functioning like problem solving, decision making, identifying emotions, etc. – just as human beings do. Their programmers are thrilled at the success of these robots programmed with Artificial Intelligence.

In fact, the humanoid NAO robot has given its first interactive motivational interview few months back, thus making psychologists think if robots could be Counselors! Participants who attended the session in the University of Plymouth were very satisfied with the experience as NAO was very patient, didn’t interrupt in between and was non-judgmental. Well, aren’t these skills supposed to be some of the defining characteristics of Counselors! Tough competition awaits ahead, Counselors!!

As of today, there still are people (mostly in traditional cultures) who are not open to seeking Counseling for the problems they face. They prefer to whine away to death than to be helped to revive and blossom. In a country like India, we encounter lots of denials and hesitation to seek professional help for fear of social taboo, elders-know-best attitude and the deep-rooted understanding that dirty linen should never be taken outdoors. Though people in metro cities are becoming marginally aware and open to Counseling and Counselors are having their presence felt, people in other parts of the country are still not open to the whole idea.

In such a mixed world order, enter Humanoid Robots promising to be good and effective Counselors! One never knows – it may actually help. After all, for some it is easier ventilating before a machine than before a human. No risk of judgmental statements, no risk of leakage of information shared, patient uninterrupted hearing and encouraging suggestions in return. There may soon even be a hug, a pat and a wiping off of tears! All in place. Excellent!

Everything said and done, it is for humans to ponder if it is worth trading life and blood for lifeless ease. We are increasingly progressing into a world of clicks and commands, start-ups and profits, lure of comforts and the attraction of products – all from one’s own living room. Not identifying with technology is perhaps something that is limited to very few geographic pockets of the world today. With such seemingly all-pervasive technological tentacles, the fear of fading human warmth looms large. As such, people need to be encouraged to be sensitive to the emotions of others, to be understanding, etc. etc. And now with the advent of Humanoid Counselors, humans are soon expected to be aliens to their own emotions.

 If you’ve watched Home Alone 4, you wouldn’t have missed observing how Natalie’s luxurious mansion functioned! Remote-controlled doors that open and close with the commands Door Open and Door Close respectively,  a rotating library that turns 180 degrees to expose a bar at the command Open Sesame, cleaning done with the commands Vacuum On and Vacuum Off are the operational features of the mansion. And how happy Kevin, the kiddo is, to have a room full of large screen games of different types! Soon however, he misses the presence of his mom, dad and siblings.

Technology sure does ease man’s labour! Lifeless technology though promises to make life comfortable and liveable, would be a poor replacement to life and blood. We may have Humanoid Counselors, Humanoid parents to supervise children, Humanoid teachers in classrooms and so on, but it sure is a dangerous trade.

There is no escape to the advent of robots and Robotics. The present generation of school-goers find all things manual to be dull, drab and monotonous. Technology allures. Mechanics entice. With pre-teens and teens engrossed in robotics today, the future is bright for a world largely operated by robots.

However as of today, I find it unimaginable for me to have to share my heartaches with a Humanoid Counselor and expect human solutions from an object who has never been human. I would freak out if I were led to a Counseling room to find a robot on the chair as my helper. But, then this leap is on the cards for sure. A few decades before, people commuting to different countries in ships didn’t imagine that airplanes would be the order of the day decades later. And we humans are quick to adopt ease and adapt to it. The younger generation of tomorrow would gladly welcome robot friends and would not wince a bit to discard human aid.

There is no escaping to Robotics. However, till we can, lets strive to keep our humanness intact and encourage others to live up to be the humans they were created in the very first place. Because, when man fiddles with humanity itself, God steps out in His own way to show who truly is the one in control!

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