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Could robots make themselves as well as run the workforce?

  1. Jan 16, 2018 #1
    I remember reading Robert Zubrin's book "Entering Space" about how to travel in space and terraform planets. In one place he gets into somewhat of a conundrum about robot society, like could robots by themselves live on a planet and "reproduce"
    To me this is similar to somehwat older idea that one day robots will do all the manual work in the world and people will just relax, do the creative work of thinking etc.

    Nevertheless Zubrin seems to conclude that it's impossible and that human factor must be invovlved:

    But isn't this same as saying that we will never have complicated machines because for a machine to be complicated it must have parts made by a machine so that at one point humans have to make a machine that will make a machine. And yet all the machines that we have today have parts that were made by machines, because that treshold from human hand to machine part happened somwhere in the past and doesn't have to happen anymore. We will always have a machine that has parts that were made by a machine.
    So couldn't robots dig the iron for the parts as well as use the knowledge?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2018 #2


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    You need to distinguish between "can not" and "will not". The book is making the case for "will not". It is not saying that there is a logical proof that machines can not do a particular task. In fact, even the "will not" must have an implied time limit. Certainly, if we imagine machines a thousand years from now, they may be able to do everything the book mentions.

    PS. I think that many of the most labor-intensive tasks that the book says are so hard for machines will soon be done by machines.
  4. Feb 13, 2018 #3
    The way I look at it ... a robotic assembly plant that manufactures thousands of IC chips .. is the first step a machine making parts for another machine.
    packaging , stacking , wrapping pallets, loading pallets into shipping containers, electronically arranging for the container to be picked up and delivered to another factory.. is getting the parts made by one machine to be used to make more complex parts for another machine.
    put the chips on a board .. put the board in a computer module .. put the computer module in a car.. all by machines ... it isn't all done by machines yet .. but it COULD be done

    so if you have an android with the assigned task of "terraform this strange planet to these specs.... " and a list of parts to build what it needs .. as long as it is programmed to do it .. it could do it. but if the PROGRAMMER leaves something out .. the android can't creatively "figure it out on it's own"

  5. Feb 15, 2018 #4


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    I'm sure I saw a video last year showing a 3D printer making parts for more 3D printers.
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