Being Human

The speed at which the artifical intelligence is growing in the world, the day is not too far, when apart from women or the LGBT communities, there would be the community of superhumans fighting for their rights.

Post-production days are close to ‘no work’ days in an office of a periodic publication. I was reading a random book when I heard a ping. It was a news app notification updating me of a growing crowd at different places across the world: From New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to the Altamira Square of Venezuela, Kiev’s Independence Square (Ukraine), Rio de Janeiro, Eiffel Tower, Wall Street and so forth. The crowd is protesting to seek equal rights as that of ‘humans’. And I went back in memory lane about decades ago.

Jantar Mantar has been famous for its protest culture since the independence era. It’s been centuries that we have sought independence from the British imperialism. But haven’t recieved freedom in a true sense. The fight for equality still continues. The fight against the discrimination based on race, caste, gender, sexual preference and so on, among the humans at different parts of the world, have not even accomplished yet. And here we have, these superhumans fighting for their right to access the public spaces, that were originally dedicated for humans, to have a law board monitoring the work sought from them, to have typical working hours and week-offs, remuneration, consent for sex, right ot property, royalty claim on their work and so on.

Well, this is a futuristic account of a day when artificial intelligence would have grown at a rampant speed and the concept of superhumans with emotions would have become a reality. The day that marks the beginning for the end of humanity, as also predicted by many experts including renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.

Robots were invented to minimise human labour. But the increasing automation has triggered a major threat of unemployment: more at labour sector than the areas that still require human analytical skills, although the latter ain’t spared for long. An analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, an accounting and consulting firm, has predicted that about 40% of jobs at the United States could be taken over by robots in next 15 years; and a report prepared with Assocham, another consulting firm, has stated about China installing 30 robots for every 10,000 industrial workers. For countries like India, where due to illiteracy or incompetent education, a major chunk of population is engaged in manual labour, the threat is horrifying. While we grapple with the job quotient and question our survival, how spared is our personal space from another take over?

Earlier, we have had virtual companions to play games with, be it chess or tennis. Now, we have humanoid robots with different modes programmed in one: family, romantic, as well as sexy. There are AI-designed applications to talk to, like Siri; apps to suggest clothes, like the Echo Look; programmes to teach things, robots helping at work or to dance or to hangout with. So soon, we would have shiny superhumans walking alongside us, going to work, partying, hanging out and what not. The advanced fear could be humans being enslaved by the robots, or a situation when a robot start loving a human and getting adamant as in the film ‘Robot’ or a robot retaliating for losing a game, as in ‘Ra.One’. However, we may remain fortunate if we follow Chatbot’s Life which believes that human intelligence is evolving dynamically and the human cognition cannot be pursued by a humanoid. Whatever, the situation may be, its high time to realise the need to develop newer skills beyond current the analytics, if we are to survive the machinic expansion and still control over the wheels.