Has technology made humans robotic? 技術は人型ロボットをつくったか?





To avoid such comparisons, humans must exercise capabilities that a robot can never have--at least, not yet. These include common sense, rational thinking, and free will.




  • copy : [verb] 真似する、コピーする。スタイルや行動を真似する
  • predictable : [adj] 予想可能な。常に同じ方法で行動または発生している
  • determine : [verb] 決める、判断する。情報を得て、何かを学ぶこと、または発見すること
  • operator : [noun] 運営者。機械や装置を運営したり稼働したりする仕事を持つ人
  • response : [noun] 応答、返答。何かへの反応


新刊書「Being Human in the 21st Century」の著者によると、ロボットが人間に近づくのではなく、人間はロボットのようになってきているという。




Turing Test とは?


It is not a surprising scenario to see people on the streets of a busy city (a la New York City) pouring over their smartphones or tablets, seemingly oblivious to the screeching cars and hordes of pedestrians around them. That is just one instance of how technology has usurped our lives, almost controlling a major part of our waking hours. According to many tech experts, there will be sensors everywhere--not just our mobile devices or wearables--in our future, which will purportedly contribute to a much smarter world than the present one. The sensors will be implanted everywhere with strong networking capabilities to protect us around the clock. However, with so much regimentation in our lives, one can only hypothesize the amount of freedom that humans will retain. In fact, many fear that humans will become increasingly machine-like in their responses to various situations.

Viewed from this standpoint, Alan Turing’s Turing Test developed in the 1950s has almost turned on its head. The test was created to measure the human-like capabilities of robots by asking the same question to a human and a robot, and then comparing their answers to see whether the robot is imitating the human or vice versa. It has been practiced scores of times ever since artificial intelligence began to be developed in machines and scientists persevered to develop robotic intelligence that is as close as possible to human intelligence and behavior. Now, however, there is an equally important test to be carried out by gauging the extent to which humans have become like robots.

This is the main argument of Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger, authors of a forthcoming book called Being Human in the 21st Century. They believe that it is now time to inverse the Turing Test to see how humans are becoming more like robots, mainly because of the influence of technology in our daily lives. Instead of enquiring whether robots can be like humans, it is more pertinent now to ask the question, “Are humans becoming more like robots?”

Thinkers on these lines prophesy that the time is not far off when humans will be monitored 24X7 and receive detailed and synced hyper-personalized services. That’s how big corporates are visualizing the world of tomorrow, which will be characterized by the catch phrase, “Internet of everything.” It will be almost impossible for humans to ever go offline because the Internet and advanced robotic technology will have a centralized and all-pervasive influence on our lives. Constant connectivity will deride and denigrate the old personal social, and professional norms. The net result will be humans who tend to think and behave like robots--predictable and machine-like.

When we come to think of it, similarities are becoming common between the behavior patterns of humans and robots. For example, when U.S. Senator Marco Rubio repeated the same statements in a debate, he was compared to a short-circuiting robot. Similarly, when we interact with a call center operator, the predictable responses often make us wonder whether we are talking to a human or a robot. This is because call center operators are given sophisticated scripts that prompt almost robotic responses to user queries. As Quartz reports, even Amazon warehouse employees have acknowledged that “we are machines, we are robots” because of the degree of automated control involved in their work.

Another oft-repeated machine-like response of humans is the way we click through various steps in, say, a registration process, without thinking in detail what we actually committing to. As Frischmann points out, we often come across an online requirement to click and agree to terms and conditions before proceeding with a download, registration, or update. When we see a button that says “Click to agree,” we inevitably and mechanically click without bothering to understand those terms and conditions, or even read them. To quote Frischmann (from Quartz), “It’s easy to dismiss those things. But the fact that every day, you and I and millions of other people routinely respond to a stimulus and click and go without understanding what we’re getting ourselves into, we are behaving like machines. We’re being, in a sense, conditioned or programmed to behave that way.”

To avoid such comparisons, humans must exercise capabilities that a robot can never have--at least, not yet. These include common sense, rational thinking, and free will. In unusual circumstances, humans can behave irrationally, and this trait differentiates them from machines. As Frischmann argues, “If we engineered an environment within which humans were always perfectly rational, then they’d behave like machines in a way we might be worried about.”

In their research, Frischmann and Selinger expound the theory that technology is pushing humans toward automated living. According to them, humans and machines meet at the Turing Line, which is a hypothetical point where machines could become like humans and humans could become like machines.




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