Saturday, May 27, 2006

Changes - Robots and Immortality

Uploaded on May 25, 2006
by oafbot
Who here doesn't know Asimov's rules of robotics? Oh, don't tell me, I don't want to know. I could recite them when I was eight.
I didn't think I would see this day in my lifetime, but I do: Japan Sets Rules for Robots:
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is working on a new set of safety guidelines for next-generation robots. This set of regulations would constitute a first attempt at a formal version of the first of Asimov's science-fictional Laws of Robotics, or at least the portion that states that humans shall not be harmed by robots.
For those who need a refresher, the first law states (and I paraphrase) that no robot shall ever harm a human, or allow by inaction for harm to come to a human. The Japanese ministry will require sensors and other security measures to ensure the safety of humans especially since they might try to create robots to help with care for the elderly.

As if that wasn't enough to get me excited, and as if my fascination with aging, or anti-aging wasn't enough, another article in Live Science - Toward Immortality: The Social Burden of Longer Lives discussed many issues that are constantly of sci-fi writers and readers' mind.
How would our lives change if we lived twice as long? the article asks and discusses marriage, family and work. The opinions on the matter differ significantly to the point that some think we shouldn't continue our quest towards extending our life span.

Cosmic Log has some interesting commentary on the matter on Immortality's pros and cons.

Naturally, I'm in the pro camp. I do think that the change would be difficult, just like any change is, and just like with anything else we should look beyond the short term effects. Already we see world-wide changes with the population becoming older. Do we say, stop medical advances? No. It is a change that we will simply have to live through to its end, then establish new standards.

Another point I always grapple with is how we could really imagine a new society. Most of us can only imagine a new society based on the one we know, ours. Can we really then imagine an immortal society based on morals of a mortal society? I believe that this is what most who are afraid of the change do.

I know, too much science fiction, but hey, it's Saturday night and we just had a surf and turf bbq, and I had some wine and I like talking about it.
Oh, yeah, and it's my blog.

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rdl said...

Interesting stuff - going to read the articles later. First thing that comes to my mind tho is the question of overpopulation ??

Melly said...

Rdl, you're right, overpopulation is a concern, but it is already a concern. China dealt with it by limiting the number of children. THere are other ways to deal with it - colonizing other planets or perhaps the need to have children won't be as strong as it is today.
Some difficult periods will come, but I believe that eventually society will deal with it one way or another.

Eric Mutta said...

I have the rather morbid belief that nature will find a way to ensure we don't live too long - given the current state of affairs in the general world, immortality would be pretty disastrous.

The other day I had a bit of an epiphany while watching a sci-fi flick involving mind upload into computers. Would immortality in a digital world make moral issues moot and hence be a wholly-positive existence?

I also find the idea of living forever to be almost as unsettling as the idea that one day I'll be no more - in both cases, you don't know which world you'll be living/dying into.

PS: long time no talk!

Melly said...

Eric! You're back! :)

I hear you on most issues. I'm just more confident we would know how to handle this.

Intersting question you pose about "digital existence", maybe you should write something about it.