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We are the Robots: science fiction becomes science fact

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I recently talked about the oncoming internet developments that follow the internet of things, from the internet on demand (3D and 4D printing) to the internet of robots.  A colleague came up afterwards, and said I was daft to talk about robots.  It’s science fiction he claimed.  I disagreed as science fiction is rapidly becoming fact.


I was reminded of this whilst listening to some guy called Brett King talking about his new book Augmented at the MEFTECH conference this week. The book is all about robots, artificial intelligence, nanotechnologies and such like.  The key in this area of development is that we will reach a stage soon where man and machine are hard to separate.  For example, there’s a moment in the excellent series Humans, where the human police inspector tells his robot colleague - they call them synths, as in synthetic humans - about having a heart implant machine that tracks his heartbeat after having a heart attack the year before.  As he concludes this speech, he says:

“So you see, there’s a little bit of machine inside the human, just as there’s a little bit of the human inside the machine”

The man-machine discussion has been one we have had since the age of media - just look at Metropolis.  


During the series Humans, there’s a moment where the husband of the main family portrayed in the show overrides the synthetic’s censorship levels in order to pleasure himself.  His wife finds out from the record on the robot’s maintenance system, and a huge row ensues.  This made me think about the predictions that are out there, with Ray Kurzweil’s probably resounding most loudly in my ears:

In less than two decades, you won't just use your computers, you will have relationships with them.  Because of artificial intelligence, computers will be able to read at human levels by 2029 and will also begin to have different human characteristics, said Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google.  "My timeline is computers will be at human levels, such as you can have a human relationship with them, 15 years from now," he said. Kurzweil's comments came at the Exponential Finance conference in New York on Wednesday.  "When I say about human levels, I'm talking about emotional intelligence. The ability to tell a joke, to be funny, to be romantic, to be loving, to be sexy, that is the cutting edge of human intelligence, that is not a sideshow."

By 2030, we will be making love with robots!

That’s one idea anyway.  Now add another idea into the mix: We can create babies without men, claim scientists.

In other words by 2030, we can have relationships with robots and have a baby with them, created in a beaker in the lab with sperm made from stem cells.  We will no longer need to have a human partner, with their idiosyncrasies and irritations.  We can have the perfect relationship with someone who learns our every nuance, wish and desire, and is dedicated to serving our needs.

What's all this got to do with banking.  Well, did you hear that Japanese banks are replacing tellers with robots? I thought British banks had done the same thing, and then discovered my teller was a human after all.  Who said science fiction does not become science fact over time?


Happy Easter.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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