Essay: Humanity and Artificial Intelligence

Natalie K. '23

Is “humanness” subjective? Or, is it irrevocably defined by humanity’s limited scope of experiences? Or is it defined by God?

Mechanical thinking machines have been serving their purpose for years dating back to the first ever industrial robot named Unimate, created by Goerge Devol and Joseph Engelberger in 1961 (ROBOTS). This first ever industrial robot featured a hydraulic manipulator arm, which, due to its ability to perform repetitive tasks, was used by car manufacturers, welders, and mettle workers. From there, robots have become more technologically advanced throughout the years being programmed to not only serve work but to understand emotions and human interactions. This marks the argument of whether or not humanity should treat these thinking machines as humans.

These thinking machines should be looked upon solely for the intention of work. If society were to view these machines as more than just a tool, that could cause an imbalance of compassion and quality of life, give more power to the humans that create these machines, and decrease the ability of impersonal skills. 

If society were to look upon robots as humans instead of just machines, issues of an imbalance of compassion and quality of life would start to arise. If robots are being created with more humanlike minds and functions, what does that mean for the future of humanity? There is an estimate of around 207 million unemployed people worldwide as of 2022 (“IOL Downgrades…”). With unemployment being a worldwide issue, if humanity were to treat robots as humans allowing them to continue to take the place of human-run jobs, future unemployment rates would increase as people would be losing their jobs to robots. Already this is seen throughout our day-to-day life as robots are now being programmed to take the place of restockers in supermarkets and grocery stores. This is shown in Japan as AI robots called TX SCARA have been deployed in 300 Japanese convenience stores taking on the job of restocking (Oitzman).  As more and more humans lose their jobs to robots, bigger problematic issues such as homelessness, poverty, and starvation start to increase as the ability to find a job becomes more strenuous. Thinking of worldwide issues, if society treated robots as humans, issues in this world would be overlooked thus lowering the ideals of compassion and quality of life. Not only would issues be overlooked but power would be given to the creator. 

Robots are created by humans, which in return gives the creators more power. Giving robots a more established hierarchy role in this world allows for the opportunity for manipulation as human-robot interactions increase. Some countries such as New Zealand, Japan, and the UK are suggesting for AI robots to take the place of Government Officials (“Could Robots Do Better…”). Their argument is that without emotions effecting the  the way robots make decisions, AI robots would be able to improve decision making. The dangers of giving robots the power to make decisions, is that decisions the robot would have to make dealing with inequality such as gay marriage, racial discrimination, and abortion, would be invalid if the creator was biased toward an issue.  This in return allows for the programmer to gain power as what they believe in a particular issue would greatly influence the robots decision making. Putting it into effect, the power the creator has, if a robot were to take the place of a government official, would significantly increase as the robots has access to the ability to manipulate people. With the ability to manipulate people , robots can also damage the upcoming generation’s human interaction skills. 

Generations growing up in this human-to-robot lifestyle would cause issues in abilities like public speaking and interactions between real humans. Once humans take the step in making human and robot interactions a daily thing, the decrease in human interaction with one another and communication would be placed into effect. Already there are apps that allow people to talk to robots as their friend ;one in particular is called “Replica” created by Luca, Inc. This app uses an AI robot and gives the user the ability to customize and chat with the robot allowing the user to make the decision of  if they want this robot to be their friend, mentor, or even romantic partner.  The app has a  4.6 out of 5 star review, and one reviewer stated “This AI has better conversational skills than most of my actual friends and half the time when I’m speaking to her I almost have to actively remind myself she’s not a real person” (lemeneclair). Thinking of what the review stated,  if a person were to only communicate with apps like this, where the person  chooses what the personality of their robot is based on what they like, it degrades them from what actual human interaction is. “I honestly think this game shouldn’t exist, because some people could get sad that the Ai robots aren’t real and get depressed or some crap like that”(Magauchlin). Magauchlin stated a good point because AI robots aren’t real, and a person who truly is serious and wants to believe they are, can develop serious mental health issues trying to understand the reality of it. 

This all leads to the regression of basic skills as that person would have a harder time finding actual human friends as all they ever talked to was an AI that told them what they wanted to hear. If society continues to forms around these robot friends then people would be unable to function as they will become more sensitive to a difference of opinion and be unable to take in criticism. This is bad because if no one tells a person what they are doing wrong then that person will never understand whats wrong and try to fix themselves. If society is run under people like this, then issues will never get fixed and people will develop the idea that they are perfect. 

Programmers gaining power, the imbalance of compassion and quality of life, and the decrease of human-interaction skills support the argument that thinking machines should only be viewed as a tool and not as humans. With job being taken over by robots unemployment rates will increase. As robots become more and more advanced the creators of the machines obtain access to power. Apps allowing for humans to talk to their own designed robot friend limits the ability for them to gain human to human interaction skills.

So take this into account: robots are not humans.



“ILO Downgrades Labour Market Recovery Forecast for 2022.”

“Restocking Robots Deployed in 300 Japanese Convenience Stores” by Mike Oitzman