We humans have had quite a headstart on robots. Robots first came onto the scene back in the 1960s when the Ford Motor company started using them in its factories. Humans, on the other hand, have been evolving for millions of years. You would have thought that we’d be whizzes at everything. But of course, we’re not. We’re still horribly squishy. And we need all sorts of other annoying things like sleep, food, and dare I say, pleasure.
Robots, on the other hand, don’t. They don’t have personal problems (yet). They just mindlessly do what they’ve been told to do and get on with it.
At the moment, robots haven’t taken over for a couple of reasons. The first is that they’re pretty expensive to build and run. Once you’ve factored in all the costs of construction and maintenance, you might as well employ a human, flaws and all. But the biggest problem is the lack of intelligence. Robots just aren’t very smart. All our legacy robots can’t work out on their own how to do a new task, even if it is strictly simpler than the old one.
Of course, that’s all about to change. Robots are being imbued with deep learning technologies. And these technologies are powering a wave of intelligence in the robotics industry. Robots will soon be able to perform more complex tasks and non-standard operations. It’s bad news for some humans in the short term. Those people who rely on rote tasks to provide them with an income could see themselves out of a job. But this was something that was always going to happen, sooner or later. Robots are just far more amenable to the economic system, and far better able to solve the economic problem of scarcity.
Here are some reasons why robots could ultimately take over the workplace.
Robots Can Be Any Size And Shape – Humans Can’t
Image Credit Pixabay
The Transformers movies were an extreme example of the idea that robots can change their shapes. One moment Optimus Prime is a truck. The next, he’s some sort of humanoid robot. Robots in the real world don’t shapeshift. But they can be shaped into practically any format we want. Giant robots could be used in the future on building sites, effortlessly constructing buildings in just a few steps. Smaller robots could be injected into your bloodstream to combat disease or kill cancer cells. Robots could be designed to explore shipwrecks that look like dolphins. There really is no limit, other than human imagination, to the form that the could take.
Even today there is a panoply of different robot designs. Some robots look like snakes, cheetahs, dogs, birds and balls.
Robots Can Communicate “Telepathically
Do you want to hear the thoughts of everybody else you know? Probably not. But robots can and will increasingly do so in the future. There’s nothing supernatural about robot telepathy. It’s called WiFi or Bluetooth. Robots will communicate with each other and coordinate their actions to perform large, complex tasks.
The progress towards telepathic robots is already well underway. Harvard researchers have already demonstrated the principle. They got 1,000 robots in a swarm and had them talk to each other to arrange themselves into different shapes. Coordinated robots in the future could perform actions that no individual robot could do.
Robots Don’t Have Emotional Relationships. Or Any Of The Issues That Go With Them
In the future, we’ll likely see robots who can feel in much the same way that we do. However, most experts predict advanced AI arriving some time in the 2050s.
The next generation of robots won’t be emotional or spiritual machines. As a result, they will have a distinct advantage over people. They won’t feel anything. They’ll be a little bit like Commander Data from Star Trek, navigating the world without human concerns. Workers, on the other hand, will struggle. They take time off sick. And they will continue to become bereaved. Right now, there’s a compassionate leave guide by Peninsula Group for employers. But for robots, there is no such thing. Businesses will find this too attractive to resist. And management as a discipline may disappear from some companies entirely.
Robots Could Be Morally Superior To People
When it comes to theft in the workplace, businesses have got a big problem on their hands. People steal all the time from their places of work, and it results in big costs. What about robots?
We’re used to the image of the Terminator and Hal from the movies. These homicidal robots aren’t exactly paragons of virtue. But there’s no reason why robots couldn’t be set up in such a way that they were morally infallible. Robots, unlike humans, are far more capable of behaving consistently. And as a result, they’re better able to apply moral principles to multiple situations. Robots could, potentially, be free from biases that could sway them away from the righteous path.
Interestingly, robots might also be better at making and keeping promises. Robots that make a commitment could show that they’ll keep it my revealing their source code. The code could then be checked to ensure that the robot will carry out the action it says it will.
It should be remembered that robots can also be programmed without any ethics at all.
Robots Will Be Greener Than People
When you think about it, people need a lot of resources, just to stay alive. The amount of environmental impact of just a single individual each year is truly enormous. But it’s likely that robots won’t need so many resources to keep them “alive.” Converting oxygen and food into energy is an inefficient process, says productivity. But the wages of one person could buy enough electricity to feed dozens of robots. Robots don’t need to eat or breathe, meaning they’re much better able to protect the environment than people.
All the advantages of robots seem to be inherent to robot technology. It’s hard not to imagine them crowding out jobs in the future. But we should remember that robots will also lead to an explosion in productivity. We could become enormously richer as a result.