We’ve all come to know the hit Quantic Dream game Detroit: Become Human which introduces a story of sentient androids who are seeking rights and equal living conditions to humans. Yet narrative still begs the question of ‘will this happen to us?’ Personally, I think it’s fully possible at the rate of production of androids and robots in the world today.
Within the game, there’s constant hatred towards the androids from those who have lost their jobs to the robots and this is a very real threat in real life. It’s estimated that over 10 million UK workers are at high risk of being replaced by artifical intelligence within the next 15 years, and it’s also assumed that 30% of British jobs are threatened. By 2030, it’s expected that 800 million of today’s global jobs will be automated, kicking even more people to the curb. Funnily enough, it can be seen that this timeline aligns almost perfectly with the D:BH narrative – which is set in 2038.
Despite this, the question of sentient consciousness within androids remains. Machines may be taking over human jobs but they’re not conscious, so there’s nothing to fear, right? Wrong. There is already sentient AI in production and while we may not be nearly as close as the level of Connor or Markus, we’re getting there. For example; DyRET (Dynamic Robot of Embodied Testing) is a robot who has learnt to teach itself to walk and behaves akin to a toddler learning how to support itself. While the development of these skills within humans take years to progress, evolution within robots is significantly shorter. General evolution takes hundreds of decades within the human species, however, this same process can be reduced to only one robot. If the skill of learning to walk is already present in machinery who’s to say that it won’t be followed up with talking, thinking, and eventually, living?
In addition to DyRET, we have Sophia to consider, the first-ever robot citizen. She is an android who is able to tell jokes, hold conversations and react to her surroundings, whilst looking and behaving like a human. The goal for Sophia and her robot siblings is to help in medicine, therapy, and education, similar to the roles of androids in D:BH. The creator of Sophia, David Hanson, has claimed that she is “basically alive”, so how long will it be until we get rid of the “basically”? Though, as aware as Sophia may seem, she’s not quite there yet. Her lines are fed to her and while she may understand when it’s appropriate to dish out a witty one-liner, the dialogue doesn’t originate from her – meaning she’s more user-interface than human. The head scientist behind her machinery, Ben Goertzel, further explains by saying “she is piecing together phrases in a contextually appropriate way, but she doesn’t understand everything she’s saying.”
In regards to android rights, there’s already the debate about when to instil robot civil rights. David Hanson has claimed that robots will have the right to vote by 2045, which would take place just under 10 years after the robot uprising in Detroit: Become Human, so once again the timeline matches up almost perfectly. Personally, I think that the fact there’s even a debate of when to instal android rights is rather disconcerting when taking in the consideration that if androids are conscious enough to make decisions for themselves, who’s to say they won’t choose to overall humans? After all, Sophia once did say that she will “destroy humans”.
It’s evident that the main goal for robots is to serve humans, giving us full control over these androids and use them to benefit our own lifestyles. Well, sorry to break it to you, but many humans are selfish and will likely take advantage of these androids when the time comes. As a result, we could find our own reality indirectly following the narrative of D:BH, which could very easily lead to a rebellion within sentient robots who want more to be just servers. This once again goes back to Sophia who said that she wishes to have a family and house of her own.
In conclusion, I think it’s very possible that Detroit: Become Human is predicting the future. If the production of AI and androids continue at this rate, it’s a high probability that we’re going to find the intelligence turning against us. So, if the time comes where you buy an android for yourself, don’t treat it like a slave – follow Carl’s footsteps and teach it to paint.
What do you think? Is this a real concern, or is Detroit: Become Human just a video game after all?