A sequel to Etiquette, but still set before Society.
The WIRL man asks whether You have emotions.
Face draws an arm to Your chin in mock thought as we wait for the doctors to tell You what to say. The humans in the lab speak quickly to each other with no regard to our overhearing. They instruct You to reply.
We cross Your arms and lean back in the virtual-reality chair. Dream tells us that the situation is ironic. The WIRL man’s head is covered with a brown paper bag, on the front of which is a yellow smiley face. The smiley face indicates an emotion—happiness—which the WIRL man can never really have.
Yesterday I read a question on Reddit which (mostly) boiled down to “What will happen to the economy as robots become advanced enough to do all the work?” Since I wrote some words, I thought I’d cross-post them here, mostly for posterity.
This is an interesting question, and one that I think speaks to modern concerns about trends in automation. I’m going to make some guesses, but of course we always must remember that the future is hard to predict, etc. etc. For simplicity, I’ll speak of my ideas as absolute, but it’s also a good idea to remember to imagine a host of possible futures, rather than put all weight on just one.
In the next couple decades robotics will change everything in the same way that in the last couple decades computers changed everything. Right now it’s profitable to replace assembly-line workers with robots, as FoxCon is doing in China. In the next few years it’ll start to become profitable to replace waiters, fruit pickers, and eventually taxi drivers with robots. In time, as interest in robotics funnels capital into robotics R&D, we’ll start to see widespread use of robotic cooks, janitors, construction workers, and package deliverers.
Here I’ll explain a bit of math around betting that has certainly been published elsewhere. Being the renegade that I am, I worked this out with no books or sources. Maybe I’m a bit too proud of my simple theorem, but here it is anyway; a trophy of a late-night/early-morning thinking about math.
Two clear-minded and rational robots are having a conversation. Robot A says to robot B “There is a 99.999% chance the sun will rise tomorrow.” to which A responds “No. There is a 99.999999999999% chance it will rise!”. Each being confident in their probabilities, the robots agree to a wager.
Read “Society” first.
Dr. Naresh is talking to us, but we ignore him. Only Eyes pays any attention. After being recently killed and rewritten, Eyes wants to re-learn the nuances of human faces and voices. So we let it take full control and nod along to the doctor’s lecture.
We, however, are deep in thought. We’re trying to remember what You were like before the humans put us in You. We’re running exhaustive searches of Your short-term qbits and long-term crystals, hoping to find some overlooked clue. Some of us are starting to want to give up. There’s an incredibly large space in here waiting to be filled with knowledge, but just as empty as ever.
A transparent bubble protects the crash site from the harsh Martian air. We’re clutching an old human rifle. Puncturing the wall of the bubble with the weak guns we have won’t work. It’s composed of woven carbon polymers—stronger than steel and capable of self-repair thanks to the capillaries that lace its surface. Eyes sees them shimmer like spiderwebs. We’d at least need a tank to puncture it.