Norbert Wiener on robots

The New York Times published a paper by Norbert Wiener that should have appeared in…1949! In this short paper, Wiener gives his view on the future of computing. He for instance foresaw a “factory substantially without employees”. He also envisioned learning:

“The possibility of learning may be built in by allowing the taping to be re-established in a new way by the performance of the machine and the external impulses coming into it, rather than having it determined by a closed and rigid setup, to be imposed on the apparatus from the beginning.”

The last part reflects upon the impact automatised factories would have on the job market, albeit there is not clear solution proposed by Wiener.  I also notice the final paragraph on “beware of machines taking over humans”:

“Moreover, if we move in the direction of making machines which learn and whose behavior is modified by experience, we must face the fact that every degree of independence we give the machine is a degree of possible defiance of our wishes. The genie in the bottle will not willingly go back in the bottle, nor have we any reason to expect them to be well disposed to us.”

Coincidentally, Wiener had just written “The human use of human beings” (1948), which reminded me of the most human human

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