I just got through reading the 2013 Roadmap for US Robotics, a guide to the current state of robotics. It includes goals and expectations of robotics for the next 5, 10, and 15 year periods.
The good news is that robots will be able to do just about everything for us.
The bad news is that robots will be able to do just about everything for us.
The View of Robots in 2013
The 2013 Roadmap for U.S. Robotics says robotics are a “key economic enabler” that improves quality of life and safety.
Their definition of a robot is as follows:
“Robotics focuses on systems incorporating sensors and actuators that operate autonomously or semi-autonomously in cooperation with humans. Robotics research emphasizes intelligence and adaptability to cope with unstructured environments. Automation research emphasizes efficiency, productivity, quality, and reliability, focusing on systems that operate autonomously, often in structured environments over extended periods, and on the explicit structuring of such environments.”
The report looked at capabilities of robots in the field of manufacturing, health care and medical, service, space exploration, and defense. Experts in the field looked at where things currently stand and made predictions as to where robotics should be heading in the next couple of decades.
The quick version is that robots are getting both sophisticated and less expensive. They are also starting to become more common in business and homes. The authors point to the use of robotic vacuum cleaners being bought in large numbers to clean floors for their owners as an example of widespread adoption.
Robots Will Do Your Job
Want to know some of the predictions for the next decade or so? Read on for what they are saying can and will occur...
Robots can replace drivers of cars, and will be able to replace truck drivers within a decade. Like smart meters? Smart roads to track your movements are being planned to help robots drive safely around accident-prone humans.
Robots can replace people who help older folks with shaving, prepping meals, and getting to a restroom. They will help with surgery and rehab. They’ll be able to replace nurses and service dogs.
They can replace occupational therapists, motivators, and coaches. They can replace parts of your body, or be put into your body to swim around and provide therapy from inside.
Robots can replace your lawn mowing service. You know longer need people to clean your floors.
Robots can replace security guards. They can replace inspectors of bridges and power plants. They can replace the people who deliver meals, bedding, and pharmaceuticals at hospitals.
Robots can replace emergency responders, border patrol agents, and people doing search and rescues. They can replace cops and firefighters. It’s safer to send a robot into a dangerous situation.
Robots can drive tractors and spray fields. They can replace harvesters and work 24 hours a day.
Robots can replace miners.
Robots can replace cooks, and wait staff.
Right now, more than 50% of pilots entering the Air Force don’t sit in a plane. They operate robots. Robots are replacing soldiers, and intelligence officers.
Freight and delivery services are expected to be handled by robots within a decade.
In manufacturing, robots are seen as a way to be “economically competitive to outsourcing to other countries with lower wages.” Robots can replace factory workers on assembly lines. Robots can move stock to mills and lathes, and operate machines.
All of the above comes from their predictions for the next decade or two. Really.
What Will You Do?
The report says this explosion of robotics wil create jobs to develop, produce, maintain, and train robots.
One goal of the Defense Department, though, is to reduce the number of people needed to operate and maintain robots.
Are you good at developing and producing robots? You may have a future.
Post Money Economy?
Assuming this all happens, most people are going to be unable to find work. It will be cheaper and more efficient to buy a robot to do the work a human used to do.
Robots don’t come in late. They won’t unionize. They are fine doing whatever they are assigned without complaint. A $20,000 robot can be purchased right now that be trained to do most simple manual tasks, and can operate for three years. Why hire a human?
This could be a wonderful new era of assisted living. An R2D2 for everyone, so to speak.
It could also be a nightmare of poverty if we don’t figure out how to provide food, clothes and shelter for people who will no longer be able to get jobs.
Can we find a way for all to benefit from advances in robotics?
Will there be a way to live a productive life without income from work?
It may be that we need to develop a post-money economy. That's not in the robotics report.