(These are excerpts from my book "Intelligence is not Artificial")
Sociological Intermezzo: Humanity without Humanity
Dystopian Quartet 4. Adagio:
We live in a partially automated world: we travel using machines (cars, buses, trains, planes), kitchen appliances do most of the house chores, machines such as television sets and personal computers provide our entertainment.
Our interaction with other humans is increasingly limited because machines perform many of the functions that used to be performed by humans. Who gives you cash at the bank? An automatic teller machine. Who hands you the ticket at the parking garage? A machine.
We tend to look at the machines that replace humans purely in economic terms: the service is now available 24/7 and it is cheap or even free; a job is lost; we can create more jobs elsewhere because we saved money here; etc. But there is a more important story behind the multiplication of machines: if the people around me are replaced by machines, it means that i will interact less with humans. Every time a human is replaced by a machine, it decreases the interaction that i will have with other humans. We talk a lot about human-machine interaction, and tend to ignore the fact that a consequence of human-machine interaction is the decline of human-human interaction.
This trend has been going on for at least a century. There used to be armies of telephone operators to direct phone calls, there used to be armies of secretaries typing documents, there used to be armies of sales people serving the customers, etc. Today these human mediators have disappeared and we are increasingly alone in a world of machines.
This trend will continue into the age of Artificial Intelligence to the point that many individuals, especially the older ones, will only interact with machines. Machines will take care of our house, of our errands, of our health, of our entertainment. This will dramatically reduce our need to interact with other human beings; even with our own family, as family support will become less and less necessary.
Your co-workers will be robots. Your friends will be robots. Maybe your lovers will be robots. Your last friend, who will see you die, will be a robot. In many hospitals around the world the last one to take care of a patient on her dying bed is already a machine.
What happens to humanity when you don't interact with humans anymore?
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