If the Robots Outdo Us

A while back on Facebook, or maybe it was twitter, someone asked what would be left for our own lives if artificial intelligence ever came to exceed our own.

Or similarly it could be asked, if the robots ever became better than us at everything, what would be the point of life?

I don’t know the limits of artificial intelligence, but one answer to these questions is that we would be freer to focus on learning, exploration, self and group development, social interaction and play. If these robots ever became so amazing that they could compose better music than us, create more captivating movies, engineer sturdier bridges, devise smarter phones, play a more riveting style of football and produce superior widgets of all kinds in next to no time, then by learning from the robots, their activities and their output, we could be educated in all sorts of ways that would enable our own human improvements. We might never match the robots, but our own understanding and appreciation of life and the universe would expand tremendously.

Such a prospect need not be daunting so long as we manage the social transition. It would be necessary either to disassociate income from labor time or to re-envisage the nature of paid employment to encompass a far richer set of human activities.

If the transition can be accomplished, the prospects seem bright.