Robots: friend or foe?

What is the future of artificial intelligence (AI)? Will robots become as intelligent as humans? Or more intelligent?


Do the preparation exercise first. Then read the text and do the other exercises.


Robots: friend or foe?

What is the future of artificial intelligence (AI)? Will it be possible for robots to be autonomous? If so, when will that happen and will it be a good thing? We asked four experts what they think.



I would say that we are quite a long way off developing the computing power or the algorithms for fully autonomous AI, though I do think it will happen within the next thirty or forty years. We will probably remain in control of technology and it will help us solve many of the world’s problems. However, no one really knows what will happen if machines become more intelligent than humans. They may help us, ignore us or destroy us. I tend to believe AI will have a positive influence on our future lives, but whether that is true will be partly up to us.  


I have to admit that the potential consequences of creating something that can match or surpass human intelligence frighten me. Even now, scientists are teaching computers how to learn on their own. At some point in the near future, their intelligence may well take off and develop at an ever-increasing speed. Human beings evolve biologically very slowly and we would be quickly superseded. In the short term, there is the danger that robots will take over millions of human jobs, creating a large underclass of unemployed people. This could mean large-scale poverty and social unrest. In the long term, machines might decide the world would be better without humans.


Personally, I think it’s fascinating to consider how we’ll speed up our evolution as a species by augmenting our bodies. Imagine if you could implant a computer inside our brain! Soon we’ll be able to do just that and enhance our mathematical ability, audiovisual perception and our memory, and this idea is only going to become more and more commonplace. AI is also popping up in the world around us. Recent developments include self-driving cars and drones carrying life-saving equipment to people at sea. Granted, there have been a few teething problems: one woman who was asleep on the floor had her hair eaten by her robot vacuum cleaner and there have been fatal accidents with self-driving cars. But progress always comes at a cost, and for me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.


I’m a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Forget the movie image of a terrifying Terminator stamping on human skulls and think of what’s happening right now: military machines like drones, gun turrets and sentry robots are already being used to kill with very little human input. The next step will be autonomous ‘murderbots’, following orders but ultimately deciding who to kill on their own. It seems clear to me that this would be completely unethical and dangerous for humanity. We need to be very cautious indeed about what we ask machines to do.



Which of the points in the reading do you agree with? Do you see robots as friends or foes?

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Submitted by Random guy online on Mon, 01/15/2024 - 11:16

i think modernisation is a good thing. We can use technology to solve world problems and help us with tasks human beings can't do without help

Submitted by WeirdAutumn on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 10:13

(Excuse my poor English, I'm 13 and living in Finland, so there may be grammatical mistakes here and there.) I think the future of robots depends on for what exactly they are used. The notion of implanting technology into us is distressing. With the rise of corporate monopoly and advertisement, when will they directly advertise in your dreams? When will your healthcare be refused because of your company score being too low? I worry we may end up in a social credit system, where our relationship to these money hungry titans is crucial. Yes, it is true that someone will rebel and someone will succeed, but we of course have to take in the killer robots. This isn't your trashy video game AI, nay, it's a robot built for war. Something handcrafted by man to hunt down man, to surpass the intelligence of man and follow orders by man. On the other hand, implanting technology into us would be terrific. We could restore lost organs, restore lost vision. We never get lost, as our minds have a GPS built in. Can you imagine the amount of kidnappings we could avoid? Nothing is perfect, though. As brilliant as our bodies are, they wither with time. These cybernetic parts will wither too, and if not done well, will be attacked by our confused immune systems. As much as it does tickle my love for sci-fi, there are repercussions. If we forget all of the corporate media and negative downsides, when will we stop? We've restored a man's vision, we've restored a man's lungs. When will it become "I've brought my son back from the dead," exactly? What would be the moral repercussions for that? Would it truly be your son, or would it be someone alike your son? How would the trauma of death affect him? How would the raw feeling of knowing you died affect you? Would this make the person hopeful, with now another chance, or hateful? Hateful to the world and hateful to those whom have brought him back. It depends on the person, of course, but it is important to ponder questions like these; at least to me. Funnily enough I am writing a novel based off of this. Alike social media, AI will be used for both good and bad. From saving lives to destroying them, that is the duality of life. If we do give our electric friends sentience, we should give them a purpose. Just picture it, your creator has finished you, but you've nothing to do. "Mop the floor," he says. "Do the dishes," he pleads. You've an aspiration to paint, yet hands for labor. You've a knack or running, yet wheels for serving. If they do achieve sentience of some sorts, we should be kind. You are a cargo operator, and you are my companion. You are programmed to lift cargo, and you are programmed to feel affection. You are programmed to be sad when alone, but happy with others. You are programmed to be happy when someone thanks you for your hard work, as it is for what you were made. "Robots don't feel, they simulate how to feel," I hear you grumble. And to that I say: when does the simulation become the actual thing? When does their electric humming become soulful humming? We don't know what the future beholds, and never will. We may have a clue, but never the whole story. The future to me seems as bright as it does grim. Thank you for reading, kind stranger.

Submitted by TheGuyFromSwiss on Tue, 05/30/2023 - 07:08

I totally agree with you. Robots are good for us as long as they want to be. Someday, they will be learning so fast that they also learn to be angry and hostile. That could mean bad things for us humans. But as long as that doesn't happen, AI and robots are helpful for us.

In reply to by WeirdAutumn

Submitted by Edaa on Wed, 06/08/2022 - 06:49

They are right, to the last point, robots, I think they will kill people, they will kill us.
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Submitted by robotrobot on Tue, 03/01/2022 - 17:08

As for me, I've never been frightened by robots.I believe that human is too intelligent creature to make a killer robot or that which can entirely substitute people.However,there are many thought-provoking movies which display that there is a possibility of rise of machines.In order to avoid it we should always remain in control of all technologies and track robot's progress in such a way we prevent aftermath.

Submitted by Rubicel93 on Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:04

I agree with expert C regarding AI, whether they will be good or bad, I think it will depend on the type of society to which they are exposed, since the development in which these robots are developed will depend on these and often the progress is positive in favor of humanity and as well mentioned by this expert! Everything has a price and it will depend on us how much we are prepared to live with AI and the price that must be paid, both qualitative and quantitative

Submitted by rabiafarooq on Tue, 12/15/2020 - 14:49

Read the questions and choose the correct expert (A–D). Each expert may be chosen more than once. Can any one plzz tell me abut this??

In reply to by Rubicel93

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Submitted by JoModerator on Wed, 12/16/2020 - 08:08

Hi rabaifarooq

First read the four texts A, B, C, D. Each one gives the opinion of an expert.

Then read the questions in the exercise and choose if the answer is in text A, B, C or D.

If you need some help with the answers, go to 'Worksheets and downloads' and you can open the answers there.


I hope that helps.

Best wishes,

Jo (LearnEnglish Teens team)

In reply to by rabiafarooq

Submitted by Rusin on Thu, 09/24/2020 - 07:53

I think AI will never be an enemy of our civilization. Robots have to be programmed so its impossible that they can be an enemy. Propably, in the future in every factory they won't be human workers because robots, who will replace them, are much cheaper and don't need to be paid every period of time so it's only one time expense.
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Submitted by bjyxszd on Sun, 07/12/2020 - 04:24

I think it depends on us whether robots become our enemies. If we use it on the right occasion and field, it will become friends with us. On the contrary, you have used the robot in the wrong place. For example, more and more robots have replaced humans. Then we will always become enemies with robots.
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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Tue, 05/26/2020 - 13:22

I have a question here: In the "Check your understanding: multiple choice", the last question, the answer of 'Which expert gives their opinion about what will happen with the same level of certainty as D?' is wrong, I think. The answer is expert C, but C is the opposite of expert D. I thoght 'the same level of~ ' means that something is very similar with something. Can you explain why expert C is the right answer of this question? Please answer me!!!
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Submitted by JoModerator on Wed, 05/27/2020 - 12:51

Hi Giovannichoi,

'The same level of' means 'the same amount of'. So, in this question 'the same level of certainty' means 'the same amount of certainty', in other words, which expert is as certain of their opinion as expert D. It doesn't necessarily mean that they have the same opinion - what matters is how sure they are that their opinion is correct. 

I hope that helps.


Best wishes,

Jo (LearnEnglish Teens team)

In reply to by Giovannichoi

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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Thu, 05/28/2020 - 12:12

Thank you!!!!! It helped me a lot!!!!!

In reply to by JoModerator

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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Tue, 05/26/2020 - 11:09

I think the robots are our foes , unless we can control them well. If we cannot control the autonomous AIs, there are no more doubt that WE are being controlled by those. And acording to B's point that robots take human jobs and that can cause jobless in the future (That's could be possible I think). Perhaps, in the future robots will be as human's pets,and can make men be more antisocial and break their considerations to one-another. Asking me whether I see robots as friends or foes that rang a bit strange, let's just say they're like furnitures. Also I'm afraid to say that the most realistc scenario is that one depicted by Expert D. That is what I think after having seen that the best inventions, technologies and inprovements developed in the past have been mainly intended to cause damage, demolition and annihilation. Like it or not, we live in a selfish world where every nation want to be the mightest one. In the not too distant futere, fresh water will be an scarce resource that wil trigger wars. I am totally sure those wars will be waged by programmed robots.

Submitted by Nishat on Sun, 04/14/2019 - 07:36

There is nothing unmixed good on earth. When it comes to AI, it is definitely good for human being. But I agree with the fact that if by accident , the robots become uncontrollable, it will bring disaster for us. So we must use and give orders to robots carefully.
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Submitted by Youjiro on Sun, 02/10/2019 - 09:30

I'm optimistic about AI. Researching AI started after world war 2 at a college such as MIT,Stanford and Carnegie mellon. History of AI is same computer science. computer like a smartphone,PC is getting smaller and getting chipper then 20 year ago.That is why computer is busted our life.Every one has computer nowadays.but AI Robot is used in factory, air plane,bad environment .AI is just program written by C language at first time. autometion of our life will be more common.autopilot of air plane is biggest job for AI. Nowadays Tesla motor challenge automation pilot for public cat. This is biggest challenge for AI and computer science in computer history .
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Submitted by ygzD on Wed, 10/31/2018 - 11:44

Robots are our foe, unless we control them.
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Submitted by Zoezoe on Mon, 03/05/2018 - 15:27

Personally the evolution of AI is a huge thing. We should be really cautious. In the future we should be able to use the AI as much as we need and think it is helpful. We should have measure. Jobs should be done by humans cause working is a part of life. We shall not exclude working and assign robots to do them. AI is supposed to make our lives easier, better and not to threat them.

Submitted by Gera35 on Sat, 01/06/2018 - 19:06

I agree with the opinion that robots will be good for our future life. All innovation technologies had discussion when they arrived but at the end the world is better everyday. For example, we live now 84 years old and it was impossible some years before, it is consecuence of innovation in medicine.
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