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News Link • Robots and Artificial Intelligence

We Need to Talk About Robots Trying to Pass as Humans

•, Matt Simon

Pygmalion sculpted a woman who came to life. Same goes with the Golem, only with mud. The amalgamated Frankenstein jolted awake to get all murderous. Humans creating life in their own image is a cornerstone of the realm of fiction.

And until recently, they've stayed there. But today, ever-sophisticated robots are graduating from Disneyland-style animatronics into increasingly realistic, intelligent beings. Take the famous human replicas of Hiroshi Ishi­guro. Or the theatrical androids from Engineers Arts in the UK, or Sophia, the humanoid without a scalp (OK, maybe that one's not particularly intelligent). They're all so entrancing, it's easy to forget how ethically problematic they could be.

Not in the homicidal Westworld sense—androids anywhere near that smart or physically capable are so far off, it's not even worth speculating. No, more pressing are the surprising social problems that will come with realistic humanoid robots, which might work the front desk of hotels, or stand in for us at the office, or live with us as companions.

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