Evolution of Robots: Will Robots replace Human?

in StemSocial6 months ago

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As we, humans, continue to embrace modernity, we live in our precious planet and share it to with an estimated 9 million robots. About 3 million robots works in factories and also a number are even seen out on the roads in the form of self-driving cars. We have established and apprised ourselves that robots play a vital part of our lives and yet the more we rely on them, the more we are concerned about being replaced as it is known that not everyone likes and approves the idea of a mechanical companion.

Over 72% of Americans are anxious that humans will lose their work to robots. As a matter of fact, in one Chinese province known as Zhejiang, about 2 million workers were replaced by robots in just two years. Robots are even now in our hospitals; there about 5,000 da Vinci surgical arms that operate on patients around the globe. As robots become wiser, quicker, and even stronger, without a doubt they are capable of improving our lives. But will they make humanity superfluous?

A robot is a computer that has the ability to perform complex tasks automatically. The term first pops up in 1920 in the dystopian Czech play R.U.R., where more powerful humanoid robots replace and ultimately exterminate assembly lines of staff. It does not take long for robots to leave and step out of the realm of fiction.


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Articulated welding robots used in a factory are a type of industrial robot | Photo Credit: Phasmatisnox


Later on, factory floors are overrun by operational robots. In 1966, Nokia first fabricated robotic arms for Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Three years after, Kawasaki made them for the Asian market. Europe soon follows BMW, Mercedes-Benz, British Leyland and Fiat all put them to work in their factories. Japan really embraces the new technology. By 1981, 6,000 robots are working in car factories across Japan, compared to a mere 370 in the United Kingdom. Because of this, in the 1980’s, the British auto industry finds itself lagging far behind, unable to compete with the flood of cheaper-to-make Japanese imports. But with the unemployment in the UK hovering at 10%, many workers see the robots as a threat to their livelihoods.

But by 1983, however, the writing is on the wall. Unimation, which was the world’s first robotics company, opens a factory in the UK. Despite workers’ fear, the robots actually do make the British automotive industry more competitive and creating more jobs. However, these factory-floor robots are also mostly deaf, blind, and dumb, making them better suited to repetitive assembly-line jobs. If robots are to assist humans with more complex tasks, they must learn to think for themselves. They will need some sort of artificial intelligence.

AI is defined as a software that can write itself, allowing computers to learn from data gathered in their environment. Since the 1960s, researchers have been exploring the idea of a robot guided by AI software, who can think for itself, like the HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Stanford Research Institute is where this dream begins to take shape. At SRI, they are experimenting with a mobile robot which was called Shakey. Shakey's camera and bump sensors transmit signals to the robot's machine brain in the next room, enabling it to deal with a variety of situations. It is all a bit shaky, but the robot’s program is a milestone in artificial intelligence, a platform on which future, more complex algorithms will be built.

By the 1990s, computers become more powerful, and AI gets smarter. International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) develops Deep Blue- a supercomputer teaching it to play chess. In 1997, Deep Blue challenges grand master Garry Kasparov, the Michael Jordan of chess. After a move at C4, Kasparov resigned. It was a landmark moment. A human has been out-thought by a computer.

Since the number of transistors squeezed onto microchips approximately doubles every two years, exponentially raising their pace and power, those computers are becoming smarter by the minute. Think of it this way, imagine a car travelling at five miles per hour that doubles its speed every minute. It is travelling at ten miles per hour after one minute. At 40 miles per hour after three minutes. But after 27 minutes, it is travelling at 671, 088, 640 miles per hour. Just a fraction faster than the speed of light which runs at 670, 616, 629 miles per hour. At that speed, it would reach Mars in three minutes. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, this is the rate at which computing capacity begins to increase.

By the late ‘90s, computing power is compact enough that artificial intelligence programs can be installed in robots and it took huge development. Robots now have the ability to make decisions and can perform more complex tasks that are too risky for humans. On July 4th, 1997, the self-driving rover Sojouner makes a giant leap for robotkind by traveling to a place where no person has gone before: Mars.


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Sojourner at the JPL | Photo Credit: NASA


With the aid of AI, Sojouner navigates across the rocky Martian terrain for three monthstaking samples and sending back 550 photos. Similar AI-driven rovers prove indispensable on Earth. Defusing bombs in war zones. Saving lives from Kosovo to Afghanistan. AI also aids flying machines, such as drones, in navigating long distances and reacting to changes in the environment. In Rwanda, a country in East Africa, where road infrastructure is limited, drones which they call “ziplines” deliver blood banks to hard-to reach places. With the help of drone, blood is obtained on time and saving people’s lives without any delay.

Although some drones help people, others damage them. The American military uses a missile-carrying Predator drone against the Taliban commander in Afghanistan on October 7th, 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, debuting a new type of robot warfare. Some robots begin acting as assassins while others become valued companions, especially in Japan. It is an attitude deeply rooted in Japanese religion. Man-made structures can contain human spirits, according to ancient Shinto teachings, which helps to understand why Japanese engineers have been using AI to build friendlier, more sensitive robots.

Kirobo, a humanoid robot created by Toyota, was launched to the International Space Station in 2013 to keep his astronaut friend company. They share everything during their 18-month stay in space. Despite possessing artificial intelligence, robots such as Kirobo do not have emotions in the same way that robots in movies do. They will, however, teach humans to understand emotions better.

Humans all over the world are increasingly turning to intelligent robots for emotional support. Japan leads they way, with over 300,000 companion robots, twenty times more than in the UK. Robots are helping in taking care for the elderly, teaching and playing with children and filling in for absent parents. Automated companions are also replacing the need for human spouses. Since 2016, over 3,700 men in Japan have opted to marry robotic holograms rather than human partners.


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Tesla Autopilot in operation. Driving in traffic with Tesla's autopilot controlling distance from the lead car and centering the vehicle in the lane. Vehicle is a 2017 Model X 75D with dark interior. | Photo Credit: Ian Maddox


Others, on the other hand, remain focused on more realistic applications for intelligent robots. In November 2005, 23 cars line up for a 132-mile race in the Mojave Desert, but none of them has a driver. It was the beginning of the self-driving vehicle. Thousands of people are killed or injured every year on our roads, many as a result of human error. Tesla and Uber will soon begin pouring millions of dollars into creating self-driving vehicles, vying for a piece of the burgeoning market.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Google, is launching a self-driving taxi service in 2018. People are now willing to pay to ride in a robot. This is a turning point. For the first time, people are putting their lives in the hands of on-the-road robots. But how do these cars work? LIDAR gives the vehicle a 360-degree view, unlike the human view which only gives 120-degree view. It also sees the world in 3D, day or night and see up to 3 football fields away. Radar and ultrasonic sensors tell the car how far away and how fast other vehicles are.

Cameras read traffic signals and road signs. All of the data is analyzed by a computer, which makes split-second decisions. To train the AI software that controls these vehicles, it will take millions of hours of driving. While they are far from perfect, robots can eventually outperform humans when it comes to driving humans. In the United States alone, there will likely be 20 million autonomous vehicles in use by 2030. However, for the 3.5 million truckers in the United States, driverless cars spell disaster and their careers are in jeopardy.

The robots seem to be on their way to take over everyone's work. And as they improve their ability to navigate our planet, the possibility of implanting sophisticated intelligence systems within them becomes increasingly disturbing. For the time being, robots and humans are coexisting. Nonetheless, technologists seem to be in a race to build robots that can outperform us, even in areas where we are uniquely human. How much of our daily tasks do we want to delegate to robots? What if the artificial intelligence that guides our robots starts to outsmart us? The “singularity” is the name given to this hypothetical tipping point. Such ideas can seem far-fetched today, but robot butlers were far-fetched in 1940. Will we lose our meaning if AI outsmarts us and robots take on more human functions? And who will be in control and have the final say? I'll leave these question open for us to ponder upon.


References

  1. The Origin Of The Word ‘Robot’
  2. Robots, not Humans: Official Policy in China
  3. Robots- Master or Servant?
  4. Da Vinci Surgical System
  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. Deep Blue
  7. Mission Accomplished: Robot Astronaut Kirobo Returns to Earth
  8. IMS unveils driverless Indy car that will race in October Indy Autonomous Challenge
  9. Drones take Rwanda’s national blood service to new heights
  10. Japan: the Land of Rising Robotics
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Interesting writing where the evolution of Robotics is raised. Throughout history, these questions have been asked and the human being has been able to follow. For example, when computers began to invade the workplace, there were workers who limited themselves to spreading adversity, but others began training in this area, updating their own procedures. With Robots something similar is happening that we need to assimilate. Thanks @juecoree

It is a fact that robots and perhaps AI will dominate the workplace. I agree with you that people need to be retooled rather than spreading adversities. !PIZZA

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Dear @juecoree, Your arguments are interesting!
By the way, I know that there are many poor people who cannot afford robots.
As you claim, robots that are superior to humans may come out. However, the fact that human labor is much cheaper than the cost of robots is an ongoing process.

I'm not rich enough to buy robot maids.
Are you rich enough to buy robot maids? 😄

Robots and AI will dominate the workplace sooner than what we thought. I know robots is pricey and everyone can't afford to it. I can't afford it too, but industries are adapting it. We must be ready and retooled ourselves. It is similar to how computers slowly dominate the workforce.

However, the fact that human labor is much cheaper than the cost of robots is an ongoing process.

Human labor is cheap but their is a limitation to how much humans can work. Robots (on industries) can be automated to perform repetitive task in a non-stop manner. I don't see robots as maids or house helper. I see robot as industry workforce.

Robots and AI will dominate the workplace sooner than what we thought. I know robots is pricey and everyone can't afford to it. I can't afford it too, but industries are adapting it. We must be ready and retooled ourselves. It is similar to how computers slowly dominate the workforce.

@juecoree, I don't know how we should respond in a world dominated by robots and artificial intelligence. what solution do you have?
I have no money to buy Robots and AI. Do you have enough money?

Human labor is cheap but their is a limitation to how much humans can work. Robots (on industries) can be automated to perform repetitive task in a non-stop manner. I don't see robots as maids or house helper. I see robot as industry workforce.

A few Korean huge factories use expensive robots and artificial intelligence.
But, Most of Korea's small factories and construction sites use cheap human workers.