Engineers and scientists today envision a world where the majority of dangerous and labor intensive tasks will be handled by robots. Many set goals have already been realized; although, humanity still needs to go a long way (The Most Fresh Robots News 2007). Previously, most of the existing robots have been developed to fulfill only one or two tasks at a time: rescuing people, working in mines or helping people in production industries. As the field of artificial intelligence goes to pinnacles of its development, so do the scientists’ ideas and visions. Nowadays, robots have been of great help to mankind in the following spheres of life: in navigation, industry and homes.
Robots in Navigation
At the University of Nevada, scientists are experimenting with robots that can assist blind people in navigation.
Robots need sophisticated sensors to keep track of their current location. Today the same technologies are being used to help blind people. Soon they will not only assist people in navigating their way, but they will also help a person see the social organization of a certain place.
For years robots have performed dirty and dangerous jobs for humans. Robots employed in underground or underwater navigation remain quite common. With their ability of laying optical fiber on the ocean bed, robots have always played an important part in navigation. Same is the case with mining: robots have been of great help to humans in exploring underground ways. These are some of the most dangerous jobs human beings could have never accomplished if there were no robots.
Robots in Industry
Robots have always played an important role in industry as well. These devices are generally computer controlled and can act independently once they have been properly programmed by specialists (HouseHold Robotics). One of the most common types of robots in the industry is ‘Pick-and-Place’ robots. These robots are programmed to perform specific tasks in specific environments. Such robots can be classified as dummy robots; nevertheless, they perform their tasks several times faster than ordinary human workers. These industrial robots have taken over most of the boring and physically demanding jobs, thus providing humans with extra time to conduct analytical work which robots are not good at. Such work distribution has created a very healthy and clean environment in industries.
Industrial robots have been in active use for many years. Some of the common tasks industrial robots perform are as follows.
- Handling operations: Material handling is the most common task performed by industrial robots. This constitutes about 29% of robot employment in this field.
- Assembly: This process involves joining different parts together to manufacture a complete product. 10% of industrial robots are directly involved with assembly.
- Processing: Only 2% of all industrial robots are actually involved in the processing part (Jobin).
Robots in our Apartments
It often seems absurd if we talk about robots in our homes. We have always visualized robots as either huge industrial machines or rather sophisticated and expensive equipment in hi-tech labs. But if we look around, we see that robots help us even in our comfort zones (robotshop). Our houses have dishwashers; we fill them with dirty dishes and walk away, leaving the robot to do its task. Although these devices and machines are not humanoid, they do belong to a certain type of robots. Rich Hooper, a consultant who develops and designs computer controlled machines, once said, “Robotics has gotten so loosely defined that it means almost anything with movable parts.” This shows that we are indeed surrounded by moving machines which are at our disposal anytime and anywhere.
For most of us brushing teeth is no more than a common task. It is, in fact, so obvious we always do it while thinking of something else. But for people with learning disorders, brushing teeth can be a difficult task. Christian Peters at Bielefeld University designed an Artificially Intelligent (AI) system that helps people with learning disorders to brush teeth with ease. Peters has already developed a system that helps people to wash their hands. Peters’s AI system, also known as TEBRA, uses a video camera to monitor someone brushing teeth and checks each step at the associated time. The best thing about this robot is that it never dictates its user a pre-defined technique; it actually adapts to the user’s routine and guides the user accordingly. Peters’s next mile stone is to develop a system that will assist people while they are shaving (Heaven). These petty personal robots can radically change our society, empowering the handicapped to become independent and self-reliant.
To further elaborate the importance of robots in human life, a simple research was conducted to analyze the opinion of common people. Questionnaires were distributed among these people and their responses were recorded and plotted. These Questionnaires included common questions that every individual could easily answer.
The graph posted above was extracted from a survey conducted to see the popularity of robots in human lives. The blue bars indicate the percentage of people who actually agreed to possess a helping robot in their lives (Jobin). The graph shows that students were the most enthusiastic to own such a robot. Frequently, people are not even aware that they are being helped by robots; the truth is that we are surrounded by robots of all types and kinds.
A lazy Generation
Robots can perform different tasks that could normally be conducted by humans, like cooking, cleaning one’s apartment, washing dishes. The increasing rates of employing robots make people very lazy; everything is done for them and they do not even have to lift a finger. Such laziness may lead to health conditions, like physical weakness and muscle atrophy, which could otherwise be avoided if they just accomplished a few house chores that they normally used to do without the help of robots.
High Unemployment Rate
Robots are intensively employed in manufacturing industries to perform tasks that humans used to fulfill. Sometimes they perform tasks that are rather dangerous for humans; thus, the manufacturing sector prefers robots as they cannot hurt themselves and management will not be obliged to pay off insurance (Knight, 2013). As a result, most manufacturing sector managers have opted for robots because of their benefits, hence rendering thousands of workers unemployed. This increase in unemployment rate is likely to have an adverse effect on the economy at large. Increase in poverty and crime rates will, therefore, go high due to unemployment.
Robots are technological innovations and they tend to be autonomous as they conduct their programmed activities. They can commit mistakes because of hardware or software faults. If not corrected, these mistakes can lead to grave consequences and massive loss. In the future, when robots become more sophisticated and complex, it is possible that their artificial intelligence will develop too far. As a consequence, they will gain their own sense and will disobey their masters, trying to overthrow them.
Robots have taken over many tasks previously performed by humans; moreover, the progress does not stop. With the passage of time, more sophisticated machines will be developed that will make human lives much easier. It is inevitable that the future world will be run mostly by intelligent robots that will have analytical capabilities to conduct their functions properly.
In the advent of robots, simple tasks that could be easily performed by humans are now done by robots; as a consequence, people tend to become more lazy. Unemployment is another adverse effect of utilizing robots that leads to other serious vices in the society.