Skip to main content
wall-e

Are robots more reliable than humans?

Today, I read, an article.

The only article I’ve read today was about a cat. A man, living in New York, apparently confused his cat with a pizza and put the wrong one in the oven. Result: fire, and firefighters finding the cat in the oven. Now of course this is terrible, sad, and whatever else. Although I do think most people are hypocrites by thinking this is sad, while they are probably going to enjoy a nice piece of cow, pig or chicken tonight. But I don’t want to talk about that.

Intrusive thoughts

I was cooking today, and thought about it. In my head, it’s kind of impossible to bake my cat. I can’t imagine anyone doing it, and I feel like something should stop the people who DO think about it. But nobody can stop them.
I’m usually thinking about things like this, just how free you are, but about the bad kind of stuff. People are awfully free.

I keep getting intrusive thoughts like “you could cut yourself with this knife now”, or “I wonder what would happen if you threw this glass on the ground, try” or “Dude, you could totally yell in someone’s ear right now, in that woman’s ear that’s sitting right next to you, do it!”. And of course I never do, I get this voice in my head that says “oh, sweetie, of course you’re not going to do that” and I manage to stay in control, but apparently some people do not have that ability.

Pretty much.
Pretty much.

One of my other thoughts is, what if people do this too? What if people also think about what would happen if they suddenly yelled really loud, or hit someone in the face? I am kind of sure that people have these thoughts. Can they control themselves? How can I know? Are murderers also people who just, one day, thought about what would happen if they killed someone, and decided to find out?

A little line of extra code

Now robots, they have been programmed by humans, obviously. With a few (well, a little more than a few) lines of code, you can make a robot do whatever you want. Would this mean that robots are more reliable than humans?
I think they are. Many people tend to forget that it is not the robot who is to blame, but the person who programmed the robot to make a mistake. Of course, crashes happen, bugs happen, but that’s usually because the person who programmed the robot has made a mistake. It’s like robots have their own indoctrination, their own religion, but unlike humans, they can’t break free.

If I were to program an oven, I could just write a line of code to make sure it wouldn’t bake my cat.

If (inOven = aCat) {
turnOvenOn = 0;
} else {
turnOvenOn = 1;
}

That’s it. Or something. I’ve never been good at programming.
So if humans make mistakes and robots do not, would that mean that robots are more reliable than humans?
Although this might be true, robots are not really reliable. Why? Because mistake-making humans are programming them. Let’s take Apple with its self-driving cars, for example. It might be alright, but what if the car has to choose between killing its driver and killing an animal on the road, or maybe even a child?

Many people question this, and it is a very important topic. Unless there are roads, not accessible for children, not accessible for any kind of animals, it would be possible for Apple’s self-driving cars to drive safely. The cars could communicate with each other and each find the best way to go somewhere.

But that’s not going to happen, so whatever.

Using programming as a way to protect

But what if we just make robots a little smarter? I’m not talking about those moving, human-like robots. The ones that’ll vacuum your house for you. I’m talking about the vacuum cleaner itself, the oven, the dishwasher, the computer, a washing machine. Things like that.

I know some cats like to sleep in a washing machine. When it’s turned off, obviously. What if we could program washing machines in such way that it’ll notice whether there’s something *alive* in there? Some children try to stick their fingers into a power outlet, what if we could program power outlets in such way that they’ll notice when anything else than a piece of metal comes close? Apparently some people don’t know the difference between a pizza and a cat, what if ovens knew when to work, and when not to work?

Protect your cat!
Protect your cat!

Seriously though, why isn’t this a thing yet? Of course, people think it’s stupid, and want to think for themselves. But that’s the thing. The problem is that we CAN think for ourselves, and that’s where it goes wrong. Because some people think the wrong thing, and this wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t hurt other people or animals with it. Unfortunately, people tend to not like it when they are the only one who does something, without involving others. Humans are social and need interaction, whether the other party wants it or not. I guess it’s natural for people to try to get others involved.

Humans need protection

So, like how we are putting humans in prison for misbehaving, humans need protection. To be protected from themselves, from other humans. What do we do with humans who involve others in bad things? We might beat them up, or let the policemen handle it, who will send them to prison. The similarity between those is that it’s done in order to “teach them a lesson”. If your parents haven’t raised you properly, either society or the police will.

But the main thing why we want to “teach them a lesson” is because we want to be safe! We want to be protected by the police, or by the stronger humans in our society. And sometimes this happens by protecting the criminal in question from society, in prison, for example. So if we are allowed to take away people’s freedom, by putting them in prison or beating them, “teaching them a lesson”, why wouldn’t we be allowed to take away people’s freedom to hurt others with robots?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *