June 29, 2017
Steve Wozniak, Other Geniuses Debate Whether Robots Will Tend To Our Every Whim Or Murder Us

What creature has a better life than a beloved, spoiled family pet? Anyone would want that kind of love and care, and as far as Steve Wozniak is concerned, that's how human life will be when robots run the world.

Does that mean robots will scratch our tummies and give us treats for barking on command? Not quite. Speaking at the Freescale Technology Forum in Austin, Texas, this week, Steve theorized that AI will be as useful to future humans as "The Internet of Things" is today, Tech Republic reported.

Meaning, robots will make our lives easier.

The predecessor of artificial intelligence is a world controlled by computers, and we're slowly but surely getting there as everything from telephones to TVs to refrigerators are hooked up to the internet. But this slow slog into the world of robots isn't as frightening to Wozniak as it used to be.

"I want the Internet … It does things for me. I don't have to think. It makes (life) nice for humans, so we want this. If it turned on us, it would surprise us. But we want to be the family pet and be taken care of all the time."

But what about that pesky Hollywood theory -- a la Terminator -- that robots will realize they're better than us and therefore wipe us systematically from the Earth?

That probably won't happen, Steve said.

"They're going to be smarter than us and if they're smarter than us then they'll realize they need us. It's actually going to turn out really good for (us). And it will be hundreds of years down the stream before they'd even have the ability. They'll be so smart by then that they'll know they have to keep nature, and humans are part of nature. So I got over my fear that we'd be replaced by computers. They're going to help us. We're at least the gods originally."

Steve's scenario in which people and robots live in harmony, the latter possibly serving the former and tending to his every need, sounds pretty darn sweet for humanity. And many other scientists actually believe in that scenario, rather than the pessimistic world created by the fictional SkyNet.

Theoretical Physicist Professor Lawrence Krauss thinks like Steve Wozniak. According to GeekSnack, Krauss thinks that the one thing we all fear about robots -- sentience -- will make them safer to be around.

Given that we expect robots to get super smart, it stands to reason that one of the skills they'll learn is how to be happy, sad, or angry. Robots will feelings, he believes, will have empathy for living things. And empathy means they won't be likely to kill us and everyone we love.

But Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking apparently still sit up at night, worrying endlessly about a future in which robots murder us in our beds, rather than serve us breakfast in them, like Wozniak envisions, the Guardian pointed out. Musk has gone so far as to invest some of his fortune in an AI firm to ensure it doesn't destroy us.

Earlier this year, he put $10 million into the Future of Life Institute. The money will be used to research how bots can be kept friendly (perhaps as friendly as the slightly creepy but no less helpful Pepper, the Japanese bot that can take care of your grandma).

Hawking, on the other hand, has simply offered us some frightening words to chew on at 3 a.m. in the morning after we've awoken from a Terminator-esque nightmare about the rise of machines.

"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."

Steven Wozniak's vision of the future, which he admits is hundreds of years ahead of us, sounds a lot more comforting.

[Photo Courtesy Mark Wilson/Getty Images]