Professor Gunkel argued the “actual legal standing” of robots has “not been decided”, but added this is likely to become a big issue in the next few decades. The academic added that in the future he expects “lots of contentious debate” over the extent to which humans should be allowed to augment their bodies with technology.
Speaking to Express.co.uk Professor Gunkel said: “I would say right now we are already augmenting ourselves with artificial devices that increase our capacities and capabilities.
“We all carry them [mobile phones] around in our pockets or have them in our purses.
“That’s a kind of external memory device, an external brain, that augments our own cognitive abilities.
“I think the future is going to be not an us verses them, but an us and them.
“We work together and become this collaborative hybrid being that is part organic, part mechanic, a cyborg of sorts.
“At one time putting a pacemaker in your body would be considered weird by a lot of people and now it’s just standard practice.
“As more of this technology becomes acceptable and accessible that line will move in the direction of permitting greater augmentation within our bodies and less of us will be concerned about it.”
“I think the future is going to be not an us verses them, but an us and them" (Image: GETTY/JAMES BICKERTON)
Advances in robotics are taking place across the world (Image: GETTY)
Professor Gunkel claimed the impact of developments in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) over the past few decades on humans has been gradual.
He explained: “Science fiction sells us this image of the robot as being this humanoid thing that enters our world
and may even endanger our world as you see in some of the more dramatic scenarios.
“I think in reality the incursion of robots into our world has been kind of like the fall of Rome. It’s not been dramatic.
“It’s been a slow incursion where everyday more and more autonomous type technologies take over more of our operation – some of the heavy lifting of decision making, recommendations, running various operations in our businesses and in our home life.”
Professor Gunkel is the author of a number of books including ‘Hacking Cyberspace’ and ’The Machine Question’.
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“We work together and become this collaborative hybrid" (Image: GETTY)
He predicts that the next 20-30 years will see robots and AI become increasingly competent at very specific tasks and integrating together more, but not yet challenging human abilities across the board.
The academic commented: “I see an increase in what I call idiot savants, all of these very capable narrowly tailored specific AI devices and robots that will do very specific tasks very well but they will be dedicated to that one thing.
“Where things get interesting I think in the next decade is we start to wire these devices together so that we have an army of idiot savants all working on our behalf to make our