Fear and disbelief have characterized the way in which many think about robots, but as they become more of a reality, excitement and a sense of possibility have taken over.
Robots and automated machines have been around for over 100 years, but it’s only in the last 5 years that robots have begun to infiltrate business processes and operations. Robots are no longer confined to assembly lines, factories, and government research labs. They take many forms: vacuum cleaners, drones, cars, chat bots, lawn mowers, thermostats, Lego sets, and rolling droid toys. Robotics is now taught to children as young as 5 years old. In the not-too-distant future, anyone with an interest will be able to program a robot, and it will be faster to do the programming than to complete the task manually.
What led to this proliferation of robots? It has been a “perfect storm” of sorts: computation power is effectively free; data storage is practically infinite and accessible almost anywhere – on or off the planet – and software has largely become open-source, giving everyone complex tools that they can assemble any way they want. Designing, building, and testing robots is no longer cost prohibitive. The rise of 3D printing, embedded processors like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, and affordable sensors allow people to build devices to solve almost any problem. Open-source machine learning, computer vision, and thousands of sensor and actuator choices make it possible to build and train a robot for nearly any task.
So what does all this mean for our future?
#1: The “3 Ds” will be Eliminated (Dirty, Dull, or Dangerous)
First, any repetitive, dangerous and/or mundane task will ultimately be taken over by a robot. Politicians may be worried about losing these jobs and the unemployment it will initially cause, but eventually the changeover in generations will solve the problem. For example, once it required hundreds of people per farm field to grow our crops, but today that same work is performed with advanced tractors controlled by just a few people. Farmers are able to drive a single tractor and have multiple robotic tractors follow in their path performing various tasks. People went on to create new jobs as technology removed the old ones and this will continue each generation even though older generations will always resist.
#2: Robots will have Specialized Skill Sets
Second, people will turn to robots to solve a problem before they try to solve it themselves. Already we rely on Google or Alexa to answer questions we’d have used “manual means” to answer previously. Eventually we will also rely on robots to make our breakfast, take us to work, and even perform a majority of our work. We will only be there to provide the creative input to the robot.
These robots will likely not look like Rosie from the Jetsons; they will instead be in whatever form makes the most sense for a particular task. We won’t need a bipedal robot to make breakfast or change the temperature in the house. Each of these tasks will be performed by their specific robot. Robots will be so affordable that you will eventually have hundreds of them in your home all focusing on their specified tasks.
#3: People will become More Right-Brained
Third, workers will need to tap into their creative sides. Humans will perform an increasing number of jobs that remain out of reach of robots: writing, composing music, acting, entertaining, designing, developing, etc. Roles like driver (taxi, semi, Uber), cashier, bank teller, laborers, etc., will most likely be obsolete in the next couple of decades. But even our educational system is going to have to change as new methods of learning prevail and our archaic school system designed for the industrial revolution finally evolves.
Robots are here to stay. They perform tasks faster, can repeat tasks with extreme precision, and are far more affordable than traditional and/or manual methods. And new technologies like augmented reality are going to give humans an entirely different way to interact with robots. There will come a day when we pause for a moment, look up from our cell phones, and realize that everything we do throughout the day involves a robot. Our houses will be cleaned, lawns mowed, kids taken to school, lunches made and delivered, legal documents generated, finances analyzed, dinner ordered and delivered…..all by robots.
At least the sports we watch will still be played by humans, at least for now.
Danny Ellis, is the C.E.O, Founder of SkySpecs. He has done his B.S.E and M.S.E in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. At SkySpecs Danny is responsible for building a strong team, raise capital, find customers, sell to customers, develop partnerships, execute contracts, lobby to the government to change regulations, and promote the business to everyone in the industry.