Robots are redefining society in dramatic and unalterable ways. Perhaps the most significant change we face is the elimination of human labor in the workforce. Robots are increasingly used to replace human workers in tedious factory jobs ill-suited for humans. This is not a bad thing. It has been proven that nearly one third of factory workers in the U.S. suffer from poor mental health due to depression, anxiety, and low job satisfaction. People get stifled and feel like a cog in the wheel and easily replaceable, which increases anxiety and depression which affects their jobs, and the cycle begins again. It’s all around a poor fit for human beings. Enter the robots.
Robotics engineer Rodney Brooks recently invented a line worker with enormous potential. Its name is Baxter and it is easily programmable and more versatile than current one armed robots in factories. It is a learning robot that mimics human movements, and only costs 22,000 dollars. That may seem like a lot, but the current one armed robot costs about 100,000 dollars, twice that in programming cost, and is very limited. With these stats, it’s easy to see how affordable Baxter is.By 2023, Baxter and his relatives could replace 30 million factory workers, or half of the current workforce, freeing up humanity to pursue more creative and fulfilling careers, or so Brooks believes.
Robots Go To WAR!
It’s actually not quite that scary. Some robots currently being developed by DARPA are tiny robots that can be implanted in the brain to stimulate the memory centers injured in battle to regain motor skills like walking and flying. We can apply this tech in civilian life as well. Patients with traumatic brain injury could regain lost functions like walking, communication, and other activities that the brain can no longer access on its own.
Big Dog, a robot under development by Boston Dynamics is designed to carry heavy loads in rough terrain or replenish supplies in the heat of battle. Of course, there could be a weaponized version, but let’s face it: all new military weapons are scary until they become a reality-then it’s just another facet of life. For instance, we do not see tanks roaming the streets imposing marshal law but for a few places in the world.
It’s easy to let our imaginations run wild with the possibilities of hundreds of terminators rising and conquering humanity, but consider that many of the technologies we use today in everyday life, like the internet and microwaves were developed by the military and are now used daily by nearly every household in America and drones are now used as delivery agents rather than indiscriminant killing machines.
Build Your Own Robots
Modular robots are fairly cheap (around 350.00) and easy to assemble. Modular Robotics is a company that builds robotic blocks or modules that can be assembled by anyone and used to create a personalized robot. Each connection effectively programs the robot to complete limited task, such as bending or revolving at the joint, rotating, or even sensing distance and light. Heck, students at MIT have even created a modular system that can actually build itself, and reconfigure itself depending on the task at hand. Soon, we can all have our own self programming and versatile personal robots that are only limited by our imagination. How much would a robot like that help out around the house?
Robot You Can Drive My Car
Google recently created a robot car that can navigate through nearly every condition on the road far more efficiently than any human driver autonomously. We are quickly entering an age where it will no longer be necessary to drive ourselves around. This is extremely beneficial for many reasons.
When humans are taken out of the equation, accidents are far less likely and traffic clears right on up. Moreover, truck drivers and commercial pilots will no longer be required to transport goods. Once commercial drivers, sailors, and pilots are automatons, what will happen to that portion of the workforce?
Where Do We Fit In?
It’s logical to wonder what we will do when we are no longer needed to perform dangerous and laborious tasks in order to survive. The major hurdle is transitioning from a labor driven society to one mindful of our newfound leisure time and the resources we consume due to the abundance an automated workforce provides. How to do that is a subject of much speculation. Will we be able to progress humanity in a way that safeguards excessive divides between rich and poor? In today’s economic climate, that seems unlikely however it is a very real challenge that we face but if we are bold and willing to imagine a better society free of economic restraints, it is possible.