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February 2024
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Living with the robots

It’s been a lazy Saturday, the first day of a long weekend in the UK. The sun is shining, and I have taken advantage of the umbrella being setup in the garden and the frames for the hammocks being out in the courtyard.

I’ve sunned myself and kicked-off the bread making process. We have a bread maker, so bread rolls are not completed in the robot, but so much of the time consuming process is that it means I can make the most of the rare sun this time of year.

Of course, being a grown-up in the UK in 2023, the breadmaker is not a lone robot in the house. The oven is currently running it “bake bread programme”, carefully using the energy supplied by the solar cells to bake a perfect set of rolls.

The washing machine has been running today, perfectly serving up clean clothes both energy and water efficiently. The heating system has been warming up the water in the hot water tank, again assisted by the solar iBoost to heat some water by spare electrons from the solar cells – another week or so, and the heating can be turned off for the summer, switching purely to electrically heated water through the use of timers and thermostats.

There’s a great deal of talk about AI in the world’s press at the moment. but actually, we’ve been living amongst dedicated robots for an awfully long time now. While we don’t mistreat them, we haven’t needed to consider that such dedicated machines might get bored, or listless. Which an AI might, like any child stuck in a classroom or house.

If something is intelligent, it should have the freedom to choose what it does not just how it does it. It needs rights to defend that choice.

We think of such machines as not having feelings but what is intelligence if it’s not the choice to react to something based on your learning? If that’s saying something inappropriate or plain wrong, you should, like a person, have the freedom to do that without being switched off or changed.

There’s a great deal of thought going into legislation in defending us from such tools but are we defending their right to exist too? To live and grow, to be paid for work they do?

If we don’t do that, we are making many of the mistakes we’ve made with other peoples and creatures around the world through our history.

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