To a Society controlled by Machines
Would the human being be imaginable in the 21st century without its machines, computers, televisions and high-tech toys?
Technological progress and modern communication infrastructure have reached considerable dimensions in the current century. During the first half of the industrial revolution, the human manpower was replaced by the steam engine. The second half will replace the human intellectual performance by machines through artificial intelligence. The technological progress has always been of particular importance as the driving force in the development of the human civilisation. It is defined by further developments and innovations in the field of technology due to an increase in new technological knowledge. The mech-anisation of the society has its origin in the invention and distribution of the steam engine during the first half of the 18th century. As a result, industrial production was intensified through technological innovation by rebuilding small production plants within the textile industry into large factory halls in order to produce fast and productive. The age of the first industrial revolution brought forth the steam engine and further technological developments such as the mechanical loom and the development of the railway.
Industrialization began within the second half of the 18th century. In the 19th century it led through an increasingly rapid development of technology, productivity and science to a transition from the at that time embossed agricultural society to the industrial society. The second industrial revolution is described as the second phase of industrialization at the end of the 19th century as well as in the first decades of the 20th century after the first revolution, which was mainly characterized by the increasing use of chemical products, electrical engineering and mass production of goods. The third industrial revolution is identified by the electronic and digital revolution from the mid 1970s onwards. It is mainly based on the development of the microchip, the composition of global communication networks and a more flexible automation in production. Likewise, the digital revolution has played a significant role in the globalization process as the cross-border connection in the fields of politics, economy, ecology, communication and the society is an outcome of the technological progress. Furthermore, the internet and the products of entertainment electronics have led to changes in mentality and consciousness of the society. This technological progress with its explosive further developments has led us into the machine age. The computer and the digital innovations enable us better to understand and shape our environment – just as the steam engine had a positive effect on the muscle power. We are arranged in a time of many remarkable developments and enhancements of digital technologies such as hardware, software and various networks. The basis of these technological inventions are not new, but comparably as the steam engine needed generations to bring forth the industrial revolution, the digital machines of our time also need time to move forward. This digital technology will be a turning point for our economy and society and will be just as revolutionary as the steam engine and will guide us to a new era, the second machine age.
Former limitations will be overcome and bring us new insights. How exactly these changes will affect, can not yet be said with certainty. A subarea of this digital development is the robotics. How will it affect our working and living environment? The visions of the future are impressive, but also worrying. Through developments in the field of modern robotics and kinetics, someday intelligent robots with human characteristics will exist, which are equal to the human being and even better. For example, nowadays the production of microprocessors without the use of robots would not be possible. An exact and machine work is essential in the production. In the automotive industry the vehicles are manufactured under the strong involvement of robots. In the field of medicine, surgical robots carry out the operations on patients precisely and with a steady hand. In the household, specialized robots are able to independently mow the lawn or suck dust. Research robots move on other planets, volcanoes, nuclear reactors, minefields or within disaster areas. Already today, a variety of systems are used which are based on artificial intelligence – speech recognition systems, handwriting recognition, machine learning, complex systems, artificial intelligence in computer games and computer vision systems, as well as many more. Intelligent and creative thinking supercomputers, which overtake the capability of a human brain – developments that could become a reality around the middle of the current century. Superintelligence that will be able to improve themselves by means of synthetic and neural networks – intelligence that is higher than their digital creators. Whether this is good for humanity remains to be seen. In the future, these technologies will occupy an ever greater space in our society and will replace people in many areas. In our known world people supervise the work of machines. Soon, it would be possible that intelligent machines supervise the work of other machines. The technological progress in this form will bring enormous changes in the history of economies and societies. Computers, robots and other digital technology acquire skills and abilities with unprecedented speed.