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Bonjour à tous, voici mon oral d'anglais, j'aimerais savoir s'il y a des fautes, merci d'avance!
Today my presentation is going to deal with the idea of progress. First, one needs to say that it has elvoved during the past centuries, and is still a matter of debate today. Progress is globally seen positively but the unwanted effects it sometimes triggered also revealed its possible excesses. Progress has therefore absolute faith, however, it has also met complete distrust and been seen as potentially dangerous and destructive. When science intervenes at the very roots of life and mankind, moral questions are raised and need to be answered for progress to be agreed upon and social advances be made. Here we’re going to focus on the progress of machines.
Should we impose limits on technological progress ?
First and foremost, we’ll talk about the advantages of progress in science, then the disadvantages and the risks for humankind.
Robots were the stuff of science-fiction until some fifty years ago. They are no longer content to live in our imaginations but have begun to occupy our world. Robots have already begun to appear in our homes, hospitals and workplaces. Robots could improve our quality of life by increasingly taking over boring, monotonous and dangerous tasks. They can already perform household chores (some vacuuming robots are already on the market). In the future, they could help to look after the elderly. They will probably entertain and take care of children. Robots already increase workplace safety. Workers are moved to supervisory roles, so they no longer have to perform dangerous jobs in hazardous settings. Besides, thanks to the technological progress, we can also advance medicine. Indeed, in the article My Body, my laboratory, it is explained that Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, decided to carry out experiments on himself. In 2002, he had a silicon chip with 100 electrodes implanted in his arm. His aim was to see whether a humain being could respond to stimuli generated by a computer, in other words if man and machine could interact. Thereby, the experiment proved successful as, by means of the implant, Warwick was able to control an electric chair and move a distant robot arm just by his thoughts. Therefore, Kevin’s research is most likely to find applications in the medical field. It could lead to the invention of medical tools for treating patients whose nervous system is damaged : blind or disabled people for instance. In addition, here another example : during an interview, according to the professor Hugh Herr, bionics either replace or enhance human function. This is achieved thanks to electromechanical devices, by either attaching them to or implanting them into the human body. When he was a young man, he had a terrible montaineering accident. As a result, his doctor could not save his legs which had to be amputated. Despite his tragic accident, he dreamed of climbing again and he managed to do so by using biomechatronic technology. Nevertheless, risks do exist, if we come to depend too much on these internal bio-mechanical devices, could they not be hacked or compromised ? If the system fails, we don’t know what would happen. Implanting foreign substances into the body is not without risk either.
This leads me to my second part where I’m going to talk about the risks of such progress.
In the article from the Huffington Post, an american online newspaper which says that two champions were surpassed by a computer, named Watson during a game TV show. Watson victory was hailed as a fantastic breakthrough in the field of artificial intelligence as nobody expected a machine to outwit very clever and learned human players. To compete in «Jeopardy!», Watson had to have an enormous knowledge base but a far bigger challenge for the machine was understanding the clues which can be obscures. So not only was the computer able to solve tricky riddles faster than its competitors but also it was able to understand enigmatic clues or subtle puns which previously only a human brain had been capable of doing. The fact that computers could become smarter can be quite scary. If computers keep getting smarter, there might come a moment when they are capable of competing with human intelligence and getting beyond our control. That’s why, the science fiction author Isaac Asimov created the Three Laws of Robotics which are a set of rules. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story Runaround. Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others. The rules were designed to protect people from harm. We can imagine that even in a fantasy world he could not bear the idea of robots taking control over human beings. He certainly wanted to place limits on human-like robots. He might have anticipated that, sooner or later, science fiction would become science fact and that the Three Laws would have to be incorporated into robots as safety features. Hence, he must have foreseen that robotic researchers would have to draw up laws for robots behaviour. Moreover, we saw previously that more and more advanced home applicances are being invented and can make our lives easier but the main drawback of using robots in the workplace is that human beings are made redundant. Robots, which are fast, accurate and never get tired, already replace factory workers on automated assembly lines. Another downside, concerning robots is their cost. In addition, robots can’t think and adapt to changing circumstances, so they need to be supervised.
To sum up, on the one hand technological progress is essential to the evolution of the world and has become indispensable to our comfort, yet, on the other hand it can put us in jeopardy, we have to draw up laws for robots behaviour to protect people from harm and prevent robots taking control over human beings. Thus, in any case the trend is here to stay and we shall probably be faced with some complex choices sometimes in the near future.