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    Who Takes the Rap for Robots? Robot Developer Probes Tech's Moral Side

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    As self-driving cars become a reality and workplace robots become a reality, the capability of artificial intelligence poses moral questions for society; "who is responsible for a robot's mistake?" asks Argentine robotics expert Gonzalo Zabala.

    As self-driving cars are being tested by major manufacturers, and surveys show concern that human jobs could be replaced by robots, the increased capability of artificial intelligence poses moral questions, robotics expert Gonzalo Zabala told Sputnik Mundo.

    "From a moral point of view, how will machines make decisions, when they have this ability? Who will be responsible for errors in decision-making by machines that have learned independently?" are some of the pertinent questions, Zabala said.

    At the moment, the responsibility for what robots do lies on the companies who make them, but new moral issues will come to the fore when artificial intelligence is capable of taking decisions independently via automatic or machine learning.

    A self-driving car traverses a parking lot at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California on January 8, 2016.
    © AFP 2019 / Noah Berger
    A self-driving car traverses a parking lot at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California on January 8, 2016.
    The complexity of human intellect is a major factor in the development of robots, Zabala added.

    "When it comes to developing systems or intelligent machines, we reflect on our own intelligence and mechanisms, for learning, for example. This task is good not only in itself, but also because it makes us think about ourselves," he explained.

    He foresees that the "artificial intelligence and other technologies may have the biggest impact in the work sphere."

    As part of a major push towards automation, the first robots-only factory is being built in China's Dongguan manufacturing hub, reducing human employees to a bare minimum.
    © AP Photo / Wang Dingchang/Xinhua
    As part of a major push towards automation, the first robots-only factory is being built in China's Dongguan manufacturing hub, reducing human employees to a bare minimum.
    By 2050, it is predicted that 90% of factories will be automated. Although this will cause some professions to disappear, Zabala is hopeful that new technology will create other opportunities, which require more skilled workers will change the concept of "work."

    "We are already taking advantage of technology, and not just in first world countries or the higher social classes. People around the world are no longer working as they did 50 or 100 years ago."

    SoftBank Corp's humanoid robot named Pepper plays a video game against a visitor at a booth during Niconico Chokaigi 2015 in Makuhari, east of Tokyo, Japan April 26, 2015.
    © REUTERS / Yuya Shino
    SoftBank Corp's humanoid robot named "Pepper" plays a video game against a visitor at a booth during Niconico Chokaigi 2015 in Makuhari, east of Tokyo, Japan April 26, 2015.
    In all, Zabala doesn't see robots as a threat to humankind. A far greater threat lies in society's thirst for consumption, he warned.

    "[The topic of artificial intelligence] is more attractive for the media, and the issue of resources is pushed into the background. I am very worried about the US lagging behind with regard to the Paris climate change agreement. In addition, even in countries that support this treaty, there is an insane level of consumer goods production," he said.

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    Artificial Intelligence, climate change, robot, Argentina
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