Week 3/ Robotics, Innovation, Future/ Andrew Curnow

Throughout the extensive history of mankind, evolution and industrialization has occurred. From simply beginning to use iron farm tools, to the modern day technology and robotics utilized in open heart surgeries, humankind has greatly advanced itself. Of all of the trademark moments in societal improvement, or degeneration in some people’s opinion, one that truly marked a new era was Henry Ford’s utilization of the assembly line and use of interchangeable parts. This innovative production principle allowed Henry Ford’s company to draw above its competition in a capitalistic sense; however it impacted the world itself. It allowed firms to mass produce goods, all identical, all conforming for a decent price, and allowed interchangeable parts to make constant repairs feasible. This cataclysmic change in society allowed the production possibility frontiers of many firms and markets to drastically shift and expand, however at a price. Pre-revolution, parts were crafted in artisanship, it was a trade to be able to efficiently hand craft many pieces, and with the notion of interchangeable parts this trade was deemed near useless. Thus Ford’s technical innovations were positive in an economist’s mindset; however it brought forth conformity that almost eliminated creativity and artist input.

This idea of technological progress has always encountered much criticism. In Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a distinct fear of a futuristic and technologically advance society is easily evident, where creativity and the art is not evident, and mass conformity is apparent in daily life. However in ancient times fear was shown towards progression as works of evil, the very same changes that have aided in the production of our present day world. In Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” the author states that though things can be reproduced mechanically, easily, and efficiently, the mass of creations will always lack authenticity, no matter how theoretically ‘perfect’ they are. All of these factors aim to one thing, a distinct fear of the future, robotics and technology.

On the other hand however, or rather, on a personal note I believe technology can only better the future of humanity. Granted giving a computer the intelligence of a human is indeed a fearful thought, I think that on the current level, technology has given humanity the means to be the most efficient, and useful as possible. Though a common argument has been the technology has been our demise, through things such as global warming, that is simply the fallacy on our behalf of not correctly using what technology has granted us. An example is in healthcare, though through the extent of our evolution, human practice of medicine has greatly increased, the possibilities of our future require the precision of robotic assistance. The fear of artificial intelligence ‘taking over the world’ is a fallacy developed solely in the creative minds of Hollywood. The only true fear should lie in the human misuse of that technology and the repercussions it will have on our planet and our immediate health.

http://www.hsi.gatech.edu/hrl/

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