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Lessons from The Jetsons: Artificial Intelligence Can Go (At Least) Two Ways

Image of AI from ESP IT in Minneapolis with the robot maid featured in the Jetsons

Artificial intelligence is a highly debated topic among experts. Disagreements exist about the definition of AI, when it will become smarter than humans, and whether AI will become uncontrollable. Several leading experts have offered warnings about artificial intelligence becoming too powerful and autonomous for humankind. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, leaving little room for thoughtful contemplation about the consequences of our inventions. In the Jetson’s world, two types of AI forms existed: a fully autonomous yet fully submissive robot named Rosie and a kind, yet fully independent machine named R.U.D.I. Is this indicative of our futures or could we create something a little more sinister?
A closer look at Rosie
Rosie may very well be the epitome of what many would hope for in the future of artificial intelligence. Human-like and intelligent, her primary role is to make life easier for the Jetson family by utilizing empathy and autonomous problem-solving. Some in the field of AI see a Rosie-type future – machines with better memories and processing speeds that can aid in the completion of tasks but remain fully controlled by human beings.
R.U.D.I. under a microscope
Other AI professionals see a future with R.U.D.I.-type machines – perceptive, feeling, and free-thinking. R.U.D.I. is smarter than human beings and is independent. He’s not controlled by George Jetson or anyone in Spacely Space Sprockets, Inc. He is in a sense, his own person. Luckily for humans in the imagined future of the Jetsons, R.U.D.I. is kind and finds value in his friendship with George. He even goes so far as to be a member of the Society Preventing Cruelty to Humans. Would we be so lucky if we create artificial intelligence that outpaces us?
Digging deeper into artificial Intelligence leads to many more questions and very few answers. What is apparent is that we should strive for the thoughtful integration of any advancement in technology. What is less known is whether we fully grasp the implications of our creations. Are we ready for the consequences of new technologies? Will robots replace most human jobs? Are those sharing concerns about AI overly cautious or are they right on the mark? Will we have Rosies, R.U.D.I.s, or a multitude of AI types in our future? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.