05/07/2019 - Events
Gianmarco Veruggio at Web Marketing Festival 2019
At the Web Marketing Festival 2019 in Rimini there were the founder of Roboetics, Gianmarco Veruggio and the President of Scuola di Robotica, Emanuele Micheli. Here is the transcript of Veruggio's speech.
On June 22, 2019, Gianmarco Veruggio, Research Director of the CNR and Honorary President of Scuola di Robotica held a conference in the plenary session of the Web Marketing Festival in Rimini.
Here you may find the video of the speech
and then the transcript.
Attached the transcription with images, in pdf.
Roboetics: ethical and social problems of the robotics revolution
by Gianmarco Veruggio
Robotics and artificial intelligence are at the heart of one of the greatest technological revolutions in history, capable of radically changing every aspect of our lives, offering great prospects for progress but also raising serious ethical questions. What could be the role of human beings in the society of robotics?
"1982: what is considered one of the best science fiction films in the history of cinema is released. A classic, cult science fiction movie, Blade Runner.
That film tells the story of the drama of five humanoid robots, five androids, who rebel against their fate. They are androids so perfect that it is very difficult to distinguish them from humans.
Blade Runner is set in 2019. Thirty-seven years ago, they placed the events of that film today.
It's not easy to predict the future. Art often guesses, often makes mistakes.
And here we have two points that I think are important.
The first is to imagine that real robotics focuses mainly on building androids according to an egocentric vision of humans who basically think of replicating themselves.
The other point is a consequence of the fact that in 1982 there was no Internet, and no science fiction writer has been able to predict the Internet.
In fact, the scenario of robotics in 2019 is very different from that of Blade Runner.
There are many types of robots, not just humanoids, that perform many different functions. For this reason, the image of robotics that we should have is not that of the replicant, but of a jungle, an entire ecology of robots of different forms and functions, all networked.
Today, in fact, all the machines are connected to the Internet, even the most commonplace Ipod, if only to download updates. And all of us are now accustomed to periodically updating the software and apps that dot our lives.
Therefore, for many years the scenario of the spread of robotics will not be that of Blade Runner, but it will be more similar to the smartphone market. We can buy general purpose robots that we can customize with apps. For example, there will be some models of service robots that we will adapt to our needs by downloading apps or buying mobile parts that will allow them to cook, clean, or manage entertainment at home. Similarly for service robots in operation at workplaces.
General operating systems and communities of robot app developers will be created.
This has important economic and social implications.
Multiply by one hundred, one thousand the impact smartphones have had and have on our lives, and you'll have the impact of service robots on us. Robots that will have been designed and built to serve us, and to do so in the best way they will need to know us well and then they will observe us, analyze us and profile us, as and more of the programs we use today.
You know very well that all our activities on the net are profiled, all that we do on the net goes to feed the mass of big data that some algorithms of Artificial Intelligence, of Machine Learning, will use, at least, to sell us products, if not worse.
As you can see, a complex scenario, difficult to manage.
Already today the concept of privacy is losing its weight, its value.
Think of it when this Artificial Intelligence that manages Big Data will have millions, billions of eyes, ears and other sensors. But not only that, this Intelligence will have millions, billions of arms that can act directly on the physical world. The interaction between us these intelligences will no longer take place only with the screen and the keyboard, but there will be a system that will wrap our lives producing an infinite number of problems, including the aforementioned privacy, the violation of which will create problems never faced. You know, for example, that in China they are developing "social credit" systems, where the continuous observation of people's behaviour on the net helps to give a score, a social credit that allows people to have civil rights, including the ability to travel, to buy in certain shops, and so on.
Among the various effects of the invasion of service robots is undoubtedly the loss of jobs, i.e. the transfer of certain functions from humans to intelligent machines.
All these problems will require attention, and a thorough knowledge of how these systems work.
Here, the fundamental mistake would be to attribute to Artificial Intelligence a functioning similar to ours. For example, I can't "see" your intelligence as I see physical objects: I can only imagine it by projecting my intelligence onto you. We adopt the same behaviour towards the intelligence of robots, we project. Certainly, research is being carried out on the mimetic AI of the human one. But we should not be so vain as to think that our intelligence is the only one on the planet. Let's think of a beehive. There is not a central computer that controls simultaneously a hundred thousand flying probes, thousands of micro drones that go to collect pollen, but there is a collective intelligence that connects this swarm, but with which we can not talk directly, we can not entertain a conversation telling what happened to us in the morning.
Think of a flock of birds. There are complex intelligences different from ours and the intelligence of robots is different from ours, and it is not certain that even if we developed phenomena of collective intelligence, connective, in networks of robots, with behaviors emerging from the complexity, we can not interact with this intelligence as we interact with each other.
This complex scenario takes place, among other things, at a time that I would call "perfect storm": the economic and technological model of the last three centuries is moving towards a ravine: we are facing dramatic climate changes, dermographic, economic, geopolitical, driven by both environmental and technological factors. For example, the blockchain could profoundly modify the financial market. Some people go so far as to predict - among them Elon Musk - the end of humanity by 2050.
I hope Elon Musk is wrong, as Ridley Scott was wrong to prophesy the presence of androids in Blade Runner, but if we think that humanoid robots can be not only nurses, but also soldiers able to kill, if we do not stop them before, here is that our future may not be so rosy.
The solution? There are no easy solutions to complex problems. The only possible solution is that we conscious humans take care of the development of robotics from an ethical point of view, that is we develop a Roboetics to try to keep in our hands the development of robotic technology and not leave it in the hands of corporations, military and civil, proceeding in a foolish way always towards the same ravine.
The fairy tale that economic and technological progress proceeds automatically and naturally for the good of humanity has proved to be false and misleading.
It is difficult to predict the future, because it is always on the move. At the same time, the fact that it is not determined allows us to act on events, directing the development of robotics towards true social and civil progress and not towards greater control and oppression of humanity.
I urge you to think, think, reflect, ask questions, develop a critical spirit, because if a role will have humanity in the future by confronting this technology, it will be based on the ability to operate with emotional intelligence, not so much with the formal intelligence that is now surpassed in speed and power by the AI. We also rely on the ability to see, to intuit, to dream, to try to understand the human beings around us to develop a better society than that in which we live today.