Inderscience Publishers

The impact of robots on socio-environmental fields

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Robots – machines with artificial intelligence, physical movement, and environmental awareness – are increasing in sophistication and areas of use. Robots entered society in substantial numbers only 40 years ago as factory labour. They now occupy homes, hospitals, farms, and battlefields as an unpaid caste in a split-labour market. Their capacity for autonomous behaviour and experiential learning permits them to team with humans in some tasks while replacing them in others. Task sharing has shaped robot evolution toward an android model. As they displace humans, robots will thin out the social capital upon which human solidarity depends. While not a 'species' threat, their use as industrial and military tools concentrates wealth and power, sharpens class conflict, and increases international inequality. Because they lack the biological dependence that is the structural basis for environmental care, their deployment tends to erode environmental sustainability as well as reciprocity-based human social solidarity.

Keywords: robots, avatars, androids, human simulacrums, synthetic nature, social capital, robo-warriors, environmental sustainability, social solidarity, sustainable development

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