Robot Invasion

10 May

The idea of artificial life always fascinated humankind and therefore can be found in various myths and stories. Pygmalion’s sculpture, Frankenstein’s creature and the Machine-Man from Metropolis illustrate the human desire to enliven things pretty good. Through time the substance of these ‘mythical creatures’ changed and with technological development some of them stepped out of fiction. Our dreams of robots used to outclass reality.

No more!

Today’s robots are capable of quite an impressive variety of tasks. They do not only manufacture-, but also navigate cars, clean floors, cook food, challenge us in video games, guide us though voice-mail, play football, fiddle, assist astronauts, and even offer conversations & companionship. This list is growing rapidly, because, as Isaac Asimov explains, in the ‘New Guide to Science’;

“There is a strong push in favour of developing robots with greater abilities, with more flexibility, with the ability to ‘see,’ ‘speak,’ ‘hear.’ What’s more, home robots are being developed—robots of more humanoid appearance which can be useful about the house and do some of the functions classically assigned to human servants.”

It just started and I do find the current models quite amazing.

Nowadays, the only robots ordinary mortals use, are autonomous vacuum cleaners. Probably this will change anytime soon, once the housekeeping robots get a little better (smarter, faster) and firms decide to produce in them in large scales (cheaper). To me there is no doubt that these robots are going to be sold once they can compete with human labour. After all, there is a big market for morally acceptable slaves, right? Don’t tell me you never fantasized about having somebody else doing the boring stuff for you! Just that ‘somebody’ part was always kind of tricky. Having robots (being programmed to happily take care of these tasks) would be the optimal solution to prevent people from working and leaving them with plenty of free time (to think of something else to do in order to fill it).

Well…  Until the day the robots take over lazy and helpless humanity of course.

Fact is that robots already are able to perform various human jobs.

And not only these considered being degrading low level jobs, but also ones that actually are regarded to be human-intense. For example writing sports reports – there are programs that are fed with data (date, players, goals…), they analyze and put into context using grammatical schemes, in order to produce articles. Another example concerns more analytical jobs like the evaluation of X-rays and CAT scans (traditionally performed by well trained and high paid radiologists) because according to the famous computer programmer and writer Martin Ford: “Now, machines are getting much better at analyzing that type of visual information.”

Once again, it is all about efficiency.

The interesting question is: What happens when human workforce becomes obsolete? Do workers have to worry, or will we be living carefree in an economy of plenty? The general answer is: We will be forced to adjust to the given circumstances – meaning most probably to rethink and reorganize society. If you happen to be interested in a detailed speculation on that one, I would recommend you to either download + read Ford’s thoughts, ask Google, or watch some good old Sci Fi , while waiting for your robot to arrive.


3 Responses to “Robot Invasion”

  1. karenge May 11, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Hey Arina,

    I really enjoyed reading your post! I guess robots somehow fascinate everyone, especially when you think about the things they could do in the future, as you mentioned “doing the boring stuff…”. And if we think back, they’ve helped us already a lot, for example in production as industrial robots. However, I think it can also be scary to think about what might come next, if robots become more and more like human beings.
    Sure, it is fascinating to see that a machine can write a sports report, but unless a robot has emotions and can gain experience, a sports report done by a robot will lack these.

    All in all, you showed us really interesting examples of what kind of robots already exist and what might be coming in a few years!

    And I just discovered an article, which might add some more positive aspects to my opinion about robots, it is about a robot car which can be able to prevent accidents.

  2. johannpf May 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Hmm… that made me stop and think for a moment. Nice post, I must say! Check out this video, it’ll blow your mind or scare the crap outta you 🙂

    I found it pretty incredible to think that soon those tasks that are left for real humans to do, will be supplemented by robotics. We do live in a world of awesome innovation!


  1. Cyborg Revolution « FUTURIMA - June 26, 2011

    […] was Johann’s nice comment on my post about robots that inspired me to think a little further – about the literal fusion of […]

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