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Rethink AI post robot suicide

The baffling case of a robot committing suicide by climbing on to a kitchen hotplate and destroying itself in a blaze should make us balk and reassess what could be the impact of artificial intelligence in the real world. Indeed the case of the house bot ending its life because it was reportedly ‘fed up of the tedious job of cleaning’ sheds a lot of light on what could be the future milestones as well as dangers in the field of developing artificial intelligence. In fact, the current trend of consigning the menial and tedious work to machines and androids might have a flip side and clearly that won’t be limited to creative explorations on celluloid. While a number of films in Hollywood have already examined how a robot can start acquiring a kind of consciousness and feeling the emotions that are supposedly human, this is the first time that such a strong display of an inner life has come to the fore. Hitherto, we have had instances of robots and androids ‘falling in love’, or mimicking human behaviour that indicate romantic feelings and social exchanges. However, the latest demonstration of emotional intelligence as well as ability to act on its feelings indicate that indeed we are at a crossroad as far as understanding consciousness and mental life is concerned.

More than ever, it is now that we need to rethink what are the potential consequences of developing thinking machines. Evidently, that would not be limited to merely carrying out the tasks deemed unfit for humans because they are either too physically exhausting or too monotonous. But how can we be sure that machines too wouldn’t feel, when clearly we have been presented with a glaring evidence that they too can feel love and pain, even if the emotions are underdeveloped and primitive in nature. However, looking at the history of evolution of life, the evolution of artificial intelligence too can’t be ruled out. It is a question of ethics (in fact it comes under the field of eugenics of sort), therefore, whether we should continue to industrially manufacture these thinking machines and create a race or underclass of ‘mechanical but living beings.’
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