Originally Published: 2017
Category: Technology and Design
As robots’ utility moves into the home and the workplace, they adopt more human-like interfaces and in some cases, micro-personalities.
A second renaissance may be approaching, and if it does, robots will play a significant role in it. As the pace of change is accelerated thanks to technology, one consistent theme that arises is the use of robots for everything from manufacturing, retail, and senior care to exploring the uncharted regions of the ocean. Now, we are figuring out how we want to interact with robots, how humanlike we’d like them to be, and what sort of ethical rules are necessary to govern the master-servant relationship between robots and humans.
Take space and ocean exploration, for example. In late 2016, Boeing started to test its new Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, a 51-foot-long hybrid craft with a 7500-mile range that can stay underwater for up to six months, and works autonomously, without a crew, to provide maritime surveillance. NASA is already using a series of autonomous robots to collect samples and research from Mars, and the future of space exploration will surely depend on robots that can explore far further than humans. Now our widened understanding of what robots can do is helping us imagine new places for them in our everyday lives.
The true impact of this trend is still yet to be determined. The big questions robots raise for humanity have yet to be confronted: Most importantly, how much of our “work” do we want to cede to technology so we can focus on the activities that we love?