Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Robots are coming...

The revolution in the 80s, which resulted in car manufacturers adopting robotic production lines to weld automobiles together and spray paint them, has left many people with the idea that this is what robots do.  I have to warn those people that things have moved on rather a lot from this.  After meeting a number of robots at a Japanese consumer electronics show about 18 months ago, I am under no illusions that these machines are well capable of far more already.  Had my Japanese language ability been better, I am sure I would have been even more impressed!  And we know that future demographics will mean that we won't have sufficient people to do all the jobs we need doing (such as looking after the elderly or sick), so we can expect some applications to include these things too.  Guiding guests in corporate environments and providing security patrols are other obvious applications that are already possible.  It is not so much a case of what the robots of the future will be able to do, but more a case of what people and society is ready for them to take responsibility for.  I have no qualms about my Mother-in-law being looked after by a robot but my wife has a different opinion!   Society's acceptance of new technology is often more difficult to judge than when the technology itself will be mature enough.  

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