Will Robots Change Human Relationships?


Robots will increasingly be a new class of social actors.

In the not-distant future, AI-endowed machines may, by virtue of either programming or independent learning (a capacity we will have given them), come to exhibit forms of intelligence and behavior that seem strange compared with our own. We will need to quickly differentiate the behaviors that are merely bizarre from the ones that truly threaten us. The aspects of AI that should concern us most are the ones that affect the core aspects of human social life — the traits that have enabled our species’ survival over the millennia.

Evolution equipped humans with a social suite that allowed us to live together effectively. In the pre-AI world, the genetically inherited capacities for love, friendship, cooperation, and teaching have continued to help us to live communally.

Humans do not have the time to evolve comparable innate capacities to live with robots. We must therefore take steps to ensure that they can live non-destructively with us. As AI insinuates itself more fully into our lives, we may yet require a new social contract — one with machines rather than with other humans.


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