The science fiction film I, Robot screened in cinemas in 2004 but, interestingly, it was based on a book from the 1950s. The film is set in the year 2035, when artificial beings assist humans in all areas of life, such as household chores. But one day the central control unit for the robots, a machine called V.I.K.I., decides to seize power. She is programmed to protect humanity, but because of her computer logic she has interpreted this to mean incapacitating humans so that they are no longer able to wage war and contaminate the Earth.
Robots are no longer science fiction. Today we have robots that carry out chores such as cleaning and washing; that make strenuous work like harvesting crops easier; and that protect us, for example by warning us of hazards. However, we must consider very carefully and critically what roles we want to carry out in society as humans, and what functions and interactions we want to hand over to technology. This requires a discussion on ethics, culture and society.
Personally, I do not think that humans will ever hand over control completely. After all, what would kind of life would one based solely on rational logic be?
Dr Susann Beetz, Project Coordinator for the Ideas 2020 exhibition, answered this question.