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An era of Artificial Intelligence and robots

The era of artificial intelligence and robots including sex robots is coming.
With the rapid advancement of scientific knowledge and sophisticated technology, we are witnessing a dramatic change in our work and home environments and lifestyles.
By definition, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is any machine that shows intelligent behaviour such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making and translation of languages. Robots are physical machines that have activators which can interact with the environment such as gripper and are designed to execute one or more tasks automatically with speed and precision. Several important areas of concern have been identified.
Lethal autonomous weapon system (LAWS)
The AI and robotic communities face an important ethical decision whether to support or oppose the development of LAWS. The stakes are high and LAWS has been described as the third revolution in warfare after gunpowder and nuclear arms. 
Several countries pressed for an immediate ban while others including United States of America, the United Kingdom and Israel suggest that a treaty is unnecessary because they already have internal weapons review processes. 
It is suggested that AI and robotic science communities should organise debates and arguments should be studied by ethics committees. Position papers should be written for society publication and votes taken for society members.
Healthcare
Artificial Intelligence has immense potential to accelerate scientific discovery in biology and medicine, and to transform healthcare. For a clinician, there are several areas of interest. Firstly, the diagnosis made by computers is based on probability and statistical analysis. It may be able to accurately diagnose 95 per cent of cases of acute abdominal pain but rare causes will be missed. It would depend on the clinical experience of a good clinician to make the correct approach in such patients. 
Secondly, some investigations such as CAT and MRI scans can be supported by AI but some investigations, such as ultrasound, are largely operator dependent and misdiagnosis can occur in inexperienced hands.
Robots including sex robots
Autonomous robots and humans differ greatly in their abilities. Robots may have perceptual, cognitive and actuation limitations. They may not be able to fully perceive a scene, recognise or manipulate any object and understand all spoken or written language. 
It is thought that robots will complement humans and not supplant them. Robots have a great potential in healthcare especially in the elderly population but they can never replace a friendly smile, supportive touch and prayers from a human caretaker.
The production of sex robots and its wide availability has great social impact and may affect the future of human relations. In the modern world of independent autonomy and sexual freedom, there is more emphasis on individual pleasure and the family structure is being disrupted. 
Sex robots are created just for orgasm and robots can never say no. It is suggested that addiction to sex robots will lead to divorce. In an international workshop held recently in Hong Kong, a prominent Japanese philosopher suggested that sex was just a type of communication and sex robots should be treated as communication robot. There is also concern that sex robots would be used by minors and teenagers.
What is the Church’s view on these issues? God commanded: “You shall not kill,” so the development of LAWS should be strongly condemned. The development of sex robots is a genuine threat to family life and there should be more discussions among ethicists, Church leaders, educators and other stakeholders on this difficult issue. The values of traditional family life should be reinforced and chastity, especially in the younger generations, should be vigorously promoted
 
 
Dr. Robert Yuen Kar Ngai,FRCP FHKCPaed
Associate director, Holy Spirit Seminary College Bioethics Resource Centre
Formerly Hon Assoc Prof HKU/CUHK
Chairperson, Hong Kong Bioethics Association
Comments and criticism are most welcome email: dr_robertyuen@yahoo.com.hk