Brian Hayes made some predictions at the end of his article Automation on the Job that I would like to weigh in on. The first prediction is that we will automate medicine.
Hayes says that Google is already the top physician for most of us and “investment in cost-saving technologies has the most leverage.” While personally, I believe his predictions might be true, I hope we never enter a day and age of robotic physicians. The personal element of seeing a doctor, the psychological part that tells you another person is there to care for your well-being and to do do anything possible to make you better can not be replaced by a machine. Furthermore, it would take thousands, maybe millions of Americans out of jobs. I’m not so sure this is the smartest place for us to move as far as healthcare goes.
The second prediction is automated driving. This concept has been around since the 50s, says Hayes, but is not much closer to reality now than it was then. However, how difficult can it be? If we can fly an airplane on auto-pilot, why not a vehicle? I suppose the difference is in the amount of traffic on the roads versus the air. Either way, the self-driven vehicle of the future is practically unnavoidable. The only question is “When?”
The final prediction, and the scariest, is the automated warfare. If this became true, I honestly fear for the future of our planet. The idea that we can push a button and completely destroy parts of this planet with nuclear bombs is terrifying. However as long as weapons rest in the hands of the irrationally violent and prejudice, I believe we must hold the same power. Two wrongs never made a right in grade school, but with the stakes as high as they are, how can we afford to slack on something that huge? I just hope that human emotion, empathy, sympathy and a quest for the greater good will always put the hesitation in the leaders minds. We all know that we could kill off everyone, leaving nothing but roaches and twinkies to survive. I just pray we aren’t that stupid. Then again, humans have never disappointed in the stupidity category, have they?