Tag Archives: portablethought

Some Assembly Required

Even though technology had helped aid in brining war victory, we can’t say that technology brought out the best in soldiers.  There are definitely negative effects of military technology advancement, like higher soldier’s death rates compared to the past death rates, when military technology was at its budding stage.  However, now that military technology is in full advancement, the creation of gadgets and machines that helps aid soldiers in war is actually causing more harm to the soldiers than good.  The soldiers become too dependent on military technology, and as a result, the soldiers slowly loose their intellectuals and their minds.  It could be said that they are slowly brainwashed by the effects of technological effect.  As Douglas Engelbart have stated in “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework”, “… man’s problem solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society” (Engelbart).  The soldiers have the highest power of authority over themselves, and they have the capabilities to drive the military operations during wars.  However, by using military gadgets and tools, the soldiers loose their ability to think for themselves.   The soldiers rely heavily on physical mechanical aspects of military technology, instead of believing in a man’s problem solving capabilities.

Panning for Nuggets 2

In one section of my research, I am going to define the actual consciousness of machines vs humans, and make the border that differentiates robots from us.  I believed that I could not write a paper without defining the different standards and the different interactions between robots and humans.  If there is no comparison between two innate objects or nouns that I want to explore, than there is no argument, and there is no purpose in writing a research paper.  Here, I found three nuggets, exploring the artificial intellects, and what draws the line between human’s consciousness versus robots.  Initial question: What actually differentiates humans vs. robots?  (I am asking this question, because a lot of robotic engineers are creating robots that will think and act just like human beings.  What actually differentiates us from robots, if we are creating robots that will think just like us?)

“Robots are artifacts, and consciousness abhors an artifact; only something natural, born not manufactured, could exhibit genuine consciousness.”   -Consciousness in Human and Robot Minds By Daniel C. Dennett-

Just as Dennett states, by definition robots are inorganic, and consciousness can only exist in an organic brain.  Today, we can’t create atoms from the limited elements, which means that we can’t create biochemically designed brains to robots.  Possibly, robots may have the knowledge to control and overthrow original programing codes, but robots cannot replace our actually human consciousness.  How can we trust the robots in military, when they don’t even have consciousness?  How do we know robots will not “accidentally” kill humans?  However, the quote below this paragraph disagrees with Dennett’s view point in machines’ consciousness.   Haikonen believes in creating robots entailed with cognition and consciousness exactly like the humans: “the ultimate goal of machine cognition research is to develop… robots and systems that know and understand what they are doing, and are able to plan, adjust and optimize their behavior”.

“The ultimate goal of machine cognition research is to develop autonomous machines, robots and systems that know and understand what they are doing, and are able to plan, adjust and optimize their behaviour in relation to their given tasks in changing environments. A system that succeeds here will most probably appear as a conscious entity. Here the issues of the apparent properties of the human consciousness and those of the proposed machines are discussed.”  –Robot Brains: Circuits and Systems for Conscious Machines By Pentti O. Haikonen-

Haikonen’s statement of having artificial soldiers (robots) with actual brain capacity changes the view of robots.  Now, the author suggests new topic of robots: self-controlled robots.  In this case, we are assuming that the robots have consciousness that can determine and judge whether their actions are wrong or right.  In this case, these robots will be smart enough to out run a human brain’s capacity.  The argument shifts from “robots are inhuman, so they can’t have consciousness” to “robots have different concept of consciousness”.

“While artificial intelligence of this sort is far from a reality, robots do play a crucial role in our everyday lives. The engineering definition of a robot is “an electromechanical intelligent agent that can perform tasks either autonomously or semiautonomously.  In contemporary society, there are two main types of robots. The first is the preprogrammed robot, which performs a task or series of tasks again and again, exactly same way each time. These robots have replaced human hands with the precise and tireless movements of machines on most assembly lines. The next type of robot, far less common, is based on a command-control platform. Rather than being preprogrammed to perform a defined function, these robots are remotely controlled, in real time, by human beings.”  -Telemicrosurgery Robot Assisted Microsurgery By Philippe A. Liverneaux-

In Liverneaux’s argument, now he defines the different concept of consciousness: robots are electromechanical intelligent agent that can perform task either autonomously or semiautonomously.   Liverneaux defines robots as machines, and can disagree with Haikonen’s argument that it is impossible to create a robot with human’s morals and human’s consciousness.  Robots are either preprogrammed or remotely controlled by a command-control platform approach.  In a sense, Liverneaux is approaching that there could not be any thoughts in machines, because they are like drones, acting what the controllers wants to display.

Most of the military used robots are preprogrammed or is approached in command-control method; however, we can’t say that not all of the robots are created by computer codings and programmers.  In this case, the argument of robotic use in military is shifted into another section of robotic research: what defines robots as conscious, and where is the line we draw to differentiate robots vs. humans.  In my research, I will have robots and human’s border on whether or not the robots or humans can function by themselves without the main controller.  For example, the robots that are preprogrammed to finish a certain task will not be a conscious robot, but can be called a drone.  In a case with robots with their own minds and their thoughts to perform an action, can be said to have consciousness of a human (just like how humans have mind of their own to perform out their own tasks).

Portable Engelbart

“Increasing the effectiveness of the individual’s use of his basic capabilities is a problem in redesigning the changeable parts of a system. The system is actively engaged in the continuous processes (among others) of developing comprehension within the individual and of solving problems; both processes are subject to human motivation, purpose, and will.”  –AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK  By Douglas C. Engelbart-

Paraphrase: Expanding the adequacy of the singular’s utilization of his essential competencies is an issue in updating the alterable parts of a framework. The framework is energetically occupied with the persistent methods (among others) of creating and understanding the inside of an individual and taking care of the issues; both methodologies are liable to human inspiration, reason, and will.

“First any possibility for improving the effective utilization of the intellectual power of society’s problem solvers warrants the most serious consideration. This is because man’s problem-solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society.”  –AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK  By Douglas C. Engelbart-

Paraphrase: To start with any probability for enhancing the compelling usage of the scholarly force, the public opinion’s issue solvers need to warrant the most genuine attention. This is on the grounds that man’s critical thinking competence speaks conceivably the most paramount asset controlled by a society.

Engelbart’s quote about a “man’s problem-solving capability represents… the most important resource possessed by a society”, resonated with me.  My research topic of robotic use in military can be portrayed in multiple ways.  I can talk about the benefits of robotic technology in war, because there are many robots used for therapeutic or treatment for the military personnels.  At the same time, I am learning more about how destructive robots can be when they are created for solely battles, and warfare.  In a way, the quote fits into my research topic, because a man’s knowledge and their intellect, can impact the pathway a robotic technology can lead into.  For instance, the robotic engineers that created the battlefield robots, in first place, had a purpose and goal in mind when they were building the robots.  But, I wonder if they have thought about the true consequences of destructive robots, and how the robots will be exactly used for.  For example, one company creates robots for the sole purpose of heavy duty lifting and clearing materials to make a way, but what if other takes the same robotic idea, and use the robots for weapons to use against us?Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 11.08.34 PM


The quote resonated with me, because due to my research topic on robots and how they can impact our society as a whole in a positive and in a negative way, I truly believe that a one’s mind and thoughts will be the most valuable asset to one’s society.  The knowledge and the power of one’s brain can be the “deciding” factor of where robotic technology advancement and innovation will lead us.



Panning for Nuggets

“Although there’s little debate that computer technology complements—and often enhances—the human mind in the quest to store information and process an ever-growing tangle of bits and bytes, there’s increasing concern that the same technology is changing the way we approach complex problems and conundrums, and making it more difficult to really think.”  -Samuel Greengard-

Samuel Greengard suggests that we (humans) are losing the ability to think and store information due to the advancement of technology in Are We Losing Our Ability to Think Critically? article.  He compares thinkers from the past that defined and redefined our society, like Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity, or Albert Einstein redefining the view of the universe.  But in the age of computers, video games, and the Internet, there’s a question of how the technology is changing people’s critical thinking skills, and redefining the thinking process.  In a way, there are much more “auto-pilot” mode on our brains.  This can be exemplified in military warfare; there are so many creation of robots and machines that people don’t have to think anymore to operate these monstrous machines.  Now, in our new era, soldiers don’t have to be actually in the battle field.    Robots like Schaft, can successfully drive a car (as shown in the linked video) without a help of human brain.  What’s more fascinating is that due to our advancement in technology and the creation of robots, we are heading towards a world with a mushy swamp somewhere between perception and reality; measurable and incomprehensible.

“The trend suggests that the pace of productivity growth has decelerated since the first half of the 2000s and this begs an important question.  There’s considerable speculation that the pace at which machines are displacing workers has accelerated.  I keep hearing about “the end of work” based on the assumption that the pace of labor-saving technology—robots, AI—has accelerated.”  -Jared Bernstein-

One main focus I want to take out from Bernstein’s quote is “machines are displacing workers has accelerated”.  In some similar ways, Bernstein’s argument supports and connects to Greengard’s argument on our deterioration of critically thinking skills.  Bernstein’s point of view on the robots replacing labor work can be a cause of our decelerating critically thinking skills, as mentioned by Greengard.  In some ways, the more we advance in robotic technology, the more we will loose the definition of reality, because we would be heavily dependent on robots of our every mundane tasks.  This can be implied to my research topic: military.  Now, with known coordinates, nuclear bombs can be launched with one button.  Without giving a second thought or even using our brain, people can press one button and create a mass destruction and devastation to half of our world.  Are we manually driven by our brain or are we on “auto-pilot” due to technology advancement?  Will robots actually help us destroy this planet, or will robots help us for the better?



NOTE for my research:

(As I was reading and researching, I thought I wanted to post this case up, so I won’t forget it in my research paper.  KEEP! – This has nothing to do with Panning for Nuggets…  just my trail of thought.)

Since war is bringing more injured soldiers home with disabilities, there are greater advancement in robots replacing humans missing arms or legs.  In these cases, the brain becomes numb and useless in controlling what was there before, but now gone missing limbs.  [Major Advances in Robotic Prosthetics]  In a way, people are benefiting from robotic prosthetics, but in reality, there are going to be more amputees, and more injured soldiers coming back from war.  [Describing the lost – Question to Ask: What is the cause of robotic technology advancement?]