“Just as we depend upon mobile phones and cars in our daily lives today, the next 15 years will see mass hybridisation between humans and robots,” predicts Antonio López Peláez, a professor of sociology at Spain’s National Distance Learning University, UNED, and co-author of the study on the future social impact of robots, jointly carried out with the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies.
International experts working on inventing and adapting cutting edge robots for practical use were interviewed during the study, in order to find out by when we will be regularly using the models they are currently designing. All agreed on 2020 as a technological inflection point, because by then robots “will be able to see, act, speak, manage natural language and have intelligence, and our relationship with them will have become more constant and commonplace”, said López Peláez. This will follow a revolution in robotics after which they will no longer be sophisticated machines, but tools to be used on a daily basis, helping us with a large number of work and social activities.
What will robots do for us?
Automation currently exists in areas such as water management or unmanned aircraft that fly and shoot missiles, but whole new areas of robot use will open up in future.
One such use will be in a medical context, as exoskeletons to help disabled people move, helping to make them less dependent on others.
Even more significant will be the insertion of robots into our bodies, such as intelligent implants in the brain, which will improve our rational thought, and nanorobots to be released into the blood to clean our arteries.
Another important role will be the replacement of people working in the areas of security, surveillance or defence. According to Professor López Peláez, it is predicted that 40% of armies will be automated with robot soldiers by 2020 “just as a car factory is today, which will result in less human deaths during violent conflicts”.
Robots will be intelligent machines to be incorporated into both domestic and industrial life: they will help us to clean our houses, will milk cows on farms, and will be programmed to work 24 hours per day in factories without resting, with a yield equivalent to three day shifts. In addition, replacing human labour with robots will prevent workers from being exposed to dangerous, stressful or unhealthy environments, thus reducing labour-related risks.
The most striking feature of this technological revolution are social robots, machines with artificial intelligence, and with which we will have emotional and even intimate interactions. “A robot might be a more effective partner and a better person than the humans we actually have in our immediate lives: just as you can see dog owners talking to their pets today, soon we will be talking to robots,” says López Peláez – to such an extent that sexual robots are currently being designed to carry out pleasurable personal interactions. These will be equipped with the required sensorial abilities, such as touch. “Since they will be used as objects, sexual robots may be able to act as a future substitute for prostitution or pornography.”
The impact of a robotized society
The study also looks at the possible repercussions of incorporating robots into society. On one hand, just as with uneven access to technologies such as the Internet, they will open up a new gulf, this time a robotic one. This will result in a cultural distinction being drawn between companies and people who can afford to buy robots to help with their activities – and those who cannot. The robotic gulf will also favour more industrialised societies, potentially widening the gap between the first and third worlds, or providing greater possibilities for success in logistics and war. On the other hand, López Peláez says that “just as many Japanese people today believe that their robots are alive, we will attribute human characteristics to robots, and we may even define robots’ rights”.
Another major concern is that if robots are to carry out so many labour tasks and replace human labour, unemployment may rise just as it did in the 19th century with the invention of textile machines. The robotics experts interviewed for this study claim that factories with high robot use will retrain workers to work in other, though possibly more poorly paid, areas. However, they also point out that the situation will balance out with the development of new services involved in the design and maintenance of the robots.
SINC Team | alfa
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News