There was a futirist who said that ultimately we’ll all live in a virtual world permanently connected to computers. Another asked how one can ever know if that hasn’t already happened several times before. We can’t know, we don’t understand our own nature nor that of the universe around us. On a fundamental level reality is a baffling affair.
‘…economists “know more about the laws of human interactions and have reflected more deeply and with better methods than any other human beings” ‘
That was a good laugh. Psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, history and quite a few other disciplines have head honchos suffering from the same myopia. Must be instructive to be at the FT being surrounded by top minds in economics, history and anthropology; it’s the synthesis of different perspective that creates analytical depth.
That emotion sets us apart from robots is speculation. That economists engage in speculation in a field that is not theirs is unprofessional. Japanese research (google Paro therapeutic robot) indicates that things aren’t so simple. Robots may in fact be far more dependable companions. They’ll always be loyal, and if they “die” a copy can seamlessly take its place. They can far more expertly learn what it is that makes us tick and interact on that level. Many of our generation still hunger for a printed book since we’ve become emotionally attached to them. Maybe future generations will still hunger for a real human being, if they can tell the difference. We may be filled with judgements that nothing can ever replace another human being as the ultimate companion but we are whollyy clueless.
Another speculation is that economists think capitalism can survive in an economy where most labor is performed by robots. The robot will be the means of production itself, rendering the immediate gratification of our every desire. The economy will increasingly be the domain of automata geared at providing human beings with an ultimate life. Excluding humans from their presence because they can’t afford to own one will likely seem cruel within a few generations.
Come to think of it, there was a thinker who wrote a series of novels in which robots started reading human minds and took themselves out of humanity’s affairs because their pampering was causing ‘the end of history’.