Are Robotics the Future?
With news stories like Amazon’s alleged use of drones to deliver packages, some people wonder how integral robotics might be in the future.
The popularity of films like Wall-E shows we’re ready to embrace robots in our daily life. They’re an easy way to pass on the chores we don’t want to do. With advances in machine learning and more advanced artificial intelligence (AI), a future like the one seen in The Jetsons might not be too far away.
Let’s look at some of the robotics that may become commonplace in the next few years.
Early home robots performed simple chores like cleaning or handling gardening duties. iRobot brought us the famous Roomba Vacuuming Robot. Programmable to roam around the house, the Roomba frees up time spent vacuuming since you can program a device to do it for you.
You can even control your Roomba using a universal remote like the SURE Universal remote app. Imagine coming home from vacation to a clean house!
If watering the garden appears low on your to-do list, then the Droplet combines smart technology with the simplicity of a garden sprinkler. Because of its smart functions, it doesn’t waste water, and it can reduce your water consumption by as much as 90%.
But newer home robots offer a range of functions, acting more as companions than simple cleaners.
The ASUS Zenbo uses cameras to stop itself bumping into things while it drives around your home. Its face allows it to emote, and it even talks. It controls other smart devices and plays music around your home, so it’s a mobile form of smart home assistants like the Amazon Echo. The Zenbo acts as a home security system while you’re away.
It offers the ability to monitor elderly relatives in their own home, sending alerts to caregivers if a person needs help. ASUS promotes the Zenbo as a companion for children since it tells stories, plays games, and even dances. It uses proactive AI to learn your preferences. ASUS calls it a “hands-free household helper.”
Other home robots, like the tabletop Jibo and the humanoid Pepper, promise more choice of smart assistants. But with the release date of the Jibo pushed back multiple times, and Pepper’s availability restricted to Japan, it might be some time before the Zenbo or Amazon Echo have competition.
Home robotics make daily life easier. They fit into a role within the home and provide help. Robotics at work are harder to rationalize since their existence threatens jobs for human workers.
Machine automation in the mid-20th century saw robotics revolutionize many manufacturing and industrial processes. In the future, robotics look likely to dominate the industry and service sectors. They provide more consistent performance and are more cost-effective to use. Robotics could make humans obsolete since they don’t call in sick, they’re cheaper to update, and they work around the clock.
It’s not all bleak. AI still has some way to go before it surpasses human creativity. The InspiroBot project saw developers create an AI program to generate motivational posters. You can create your own here. Just a few clicks will be enough to show that AI isn’t quite at the standard of the human mind.
Without AI, robotics need human input to function. That requires workers, developers, maintenance staff, and designers – all jobs that can’t be replicated by robots that can’t think for themselves.
Even with AI, robots still have some limitations. They require a power source and maintenance. Unlike the human brain, with its infinite capacity for learning, machine brains have a finite storage capacity. Humans enjoy flexible intelligence, which is still inaccessible to machines.
While robotics will occupy a huge role in the future workplace, they’re unlikely to replace humans just yet.
Over to you – do you think robotics will improve human lives, or replace them?