Are robots going to take our jobs?

Browne said his new book Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering and the Future of Civilisation takes an “optimistic” view on new technologies.

Presenter Spencer Kelly (left) noted there has always been a fear over the new but Browne said “there’s no point ever halting innovation”.

Kelly questioned Browne on whether people should be worried about Artificial Intelligence and Automation.  He asked if we will see robots replacing humans in the workforce.  Browne said machines do not have “general intelligence...it is more specific intelligence”.

Robots need to work hand in hand with humans.  Robots will be able to take on the tasks that are difficult for humans and that are “dangerous or repetitive” but they will never have  “imagination” or “empathy.” He added, “imagination is what we have uniquely as human beings”.

Kelly ended on a question of ethics.  He asked Browne, just because we can do something, should we do something?  Browne said he believed the general public are not stupid and that we have regulators who do the necessary balance and checks to ensure we are developing in the right direction.  He added that it should not be “just one person, but a blend of people who make a decision” on how we advance. 

If you are interested in more talks like this, please also see Event 148 at 4pm on Monday 27 May.

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Picture by Chris Athanasiou