Opinion

Robots can never become our overlords

Utkarsh Rai | Updated on April 26, 2021

Humans will ensure robots will never become powerful enough to destroy them

Dear Yuval Noah Harari,

I read your book Sapiens, and became your fan. Your portrayal of our beastly journey is perfect. Then you wrote Homo Deus and it made me quite uneasy. I liked the way you tried to convince us that we are moving towards Homo deus. You wrote that we no longer worry about famine, plague and war as they are now manageable. We are starting to focus on achieving immortality, happiness and divinity. Being a fan of yours and being fed so much about change that “change is the only permanent thing”, “don’t resist but embrace change” that I reluctantly agreed that we will change to Homo deus.

I went ahead and read further pages. As I read, I started to hate the notion of moving to Homo deus, because you wrote that majority of Homo sapiens will slowly become useless. We will be destroyed by our own created robots, because they will slowly self-learn and become super intelligent.

We are highly egoist, how can we call someone super intelligent? Throughout our history we thrived by raging wars and destroying others.

Covid-19 came and I waited to check its impact against your book’s prediction. It was mentioned that future pandemics will be far less devastating than Spanish flu, which happened a century back. Due to the advancement in medical science we are able to launch vaccines within a year of any pandemic. Yes, vaccine for Covid-19 has come but is still not able to arrest it and has already infected tens of millions of people. Numbers are still rising.

Sadistic pleasure

Statistically, this number is still less than the Spanish flu, but the devastation this pandemic has caused is much more than Spanish flu. You had envisaged pandemics based on natural viruses. But we are Homo sapiens so we tinkered with the virus and caused this pandemic. The sadistic pleasure which we got in subjugating macro organisms has now firmly moved to subjugating micro-organisms. We will continue to tinker in future too in spite of facing more havocs, till we make them subservient. Now micro-organism is our new enemy.

The second half of your book is unnerving. It says that in the near future we will even lose the ability to dream, so I made a point to practice dreaming every night. In one of the dreams your book appeared and I got worried that my great grandchildren will get killed by our own created robots.

Homo sapiens, the programmer of robots, has started to write big programs. Each one of us is biased with our own values, beliefs and preferences. We started to write programs and filled the code with such biases. Within no time we divided robots into capitalists, liberals or communists. Then we started to subdivide them based on colour, creed, caste and religion. This is our traditional religion, not “techno religion” or “data religion” mentioned in the book.

Then we checked the level of biases in robots and tweaked the code to increase it to a level of hostility against each other. By then our dwindling population already started to have minority complex against robots. Homo sapiens decided that it is the right time to exploit their hostility and escalate it to the war level. A world war broke out among robots and before it could slip out of hand, we cunningly put a façade of peace by helping them form “United Sub-nations of Robots”. We gave a few groups of robots a veto power. Homo sapiens were smiling that this would help them to be in a perpetual cold war as no consensus would ever be reached amongst them.

The dream continued to Homo sapiens’ effort to subjugate micro-organisms causing many waves of pandemic, making every Homo sapien live in self-quarantine for longer periods. Their insatiable sexual needs being fulfilled by robots. Oh no, Homo sapiens started getting bored with the same robot and are eyeing neighbours’ ones. Sexual harassment of robots by Homo sapiens started to pile up.

I started to sweat in my dream and then I saw the true colour of Homo sapiens, which is to provide lip service. They immediately formed a robots rights group to protect them from exploitation, but the actual intent was to use this group only as a political tool to further create animosity among robots. Homo sapiens ensured that robots will always be fighting among themselves and will never become powerful to destroy us.

I woke up peacefully. Now I am happily assured that my great grandchildren will continue to live and carry the tradition of divide, kill and rule.

Yours Truly,

Homo sapiens

The writer, a Leadership Coach, is former India and China head of an IT MNC

Published on April 25, 2021

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