A talking robot is about to become common place in the form of iphone’s Siri. Lawn mowing robots, house cleaning robots and military robots are already not so uncommon (See previous blog). And although we don’t realize, we interact with robots on a daily basis in the form of ATMs, customer care bots etc. Looking at the current pace of progress, how would the future look? You could read about a possible scenario here: Robotic Nation.
If you read the above story by Marshall Brain, it is easy to think how inevitable the robotic revolution is. So, lets just assume that robots will be as common as humans in the not so distant future. I keep wondering about the changes this robotic revolution would bring. First of all, what are the changes this would bring? Some of the easy-to-visualize ones would be:
- A gradual decrease in jobs involving physical labor. Due to the cost difference in labor salaries, this decrease would probably be more in developed countries but would eventually affect the entire world.
- An increase in human reliance on machines. For example, can we imagine ourselves going back to banks standing in long lines to draw money from our accounts? The trend is socially irreversible.
- An increasing danger in terms of weaponised UAVs, military robots etc. How long would it be before development of such machines would be a simple enough job to be replicated by rogue nations?
And then, there would be a lot of changes which are hard to imagine now. For example, population patterns (cities vs rural), poverty levels (couldn’t robots feed everyone?), life expectancy (a personal health assistant for every one) etc. I could imagine robots for every problem in the world. But yet, something just doesn’t feel right.
When all the people in the world need not worry about food, clothing, shelter and such basic necessities, what would the people worry about? Conquests? In such a case, wouldn’t it be natural to make robots which could prevent wars? And then what?
The shift from hunting to agriculture caused a few populations to be pushed out of existence. The fittest survived. We are now probably approaching the stage where industrialization is reaching its goal in the form of automation of everything, including agriculture. Would this shift too cause a few populations to be pushed out of existence? Would those who do not adapt themselves to the new order vanish too?