gear up, zodiacs: an evolution in robotics is nigh…

and humans have been working towards it for at least two millennia. sure the science of robotics only came about in the 20th century, but if you really want to stretch it, the history of human-invented automation could be traced back to ancient greece. back then descriptions of robots known as automatons were documented – that’s non-electronic moving machines mimicing human or animal actions – and ever since, the ambition of engineers from all over the world has been to elevate simple mimicking to exact replication!

 

 

equal rights for robots OR maybe robots on a campaign for yours

tech predictions 2018 robots
sophia meets TV host jimmy fallon live on his show
image courtesy of sophiabot

 

 

hanson robotics unveiled sophia the robot earlier this year, the closest to a human-like robot we’d ever seen. being able to track and recognize faces, look people in the eye, and hold natural conversations it was only a matter of time before a country granted her citizenship in a clever PR stunt posed to make it look like a tech pioneer. but it also marked a symbolic beginning of equal status between humans and man-made machines which provokes a question over the future status of robots with regards to their rights. sophia-bot has even drawn attention to the inequalities of rights between men and women in the middle east – read more.

 

 

the beginning of the end of ‘healthy’ human relationships

tech predictions 2018 robots
samantha is the product of electric engineer, sergi santos
images © synthea amatus

 

 

recent research coining the term ‘digisexuality’ hints at new year experiences for the human race. it describes ‘people whose primary sexual identity comes through the use of technology’ – a thought either demonstrating the first steps away from robot fetishism and into the realm of true interpersonal connection..or the end of healthy human relationships altogether. remember samantha the sex doll? she broke down after being manhandled at a tech fair. the human doll caused controversial debate after its’ inventor boasted samantha’s ability to ‘enjoy sex’ and synchronise with with her partner to ‘mutually climax’. meanwhile, a harvard university professor has claimed that sex robots might make men, not women, obsolete. it comes at a time when sex doll manufacturers such as realbotix are beginning to acknowledge the market for male sex dolls… their application enables users to match an AI personality with a humanoid robot head, to create the most realistic sex doll imaginable – see here. these ‘advancements’ query how human nature would evolve if we got used to having sex with ultra-life-like humanoids whenever and however we wanted – would you expect complete dominance in your relationships with humans? the fear of robots sinister social consequences is one that’s in danger of becoming flesh.

 

 

these ones mop the floors…and take everyone’s jobs

tech predictions 2018 robots
walmart introduces self-driving, shelf-scanning robots in over 50 stores
image © walmart

 

 

despite dystopian fears of sexy concepts like killer robots and humanoid partners, robots will more likely become a large portion of the world’s workforce. thanks to billionaire eugene izhikevich, founder and CEO of brain corp, robots already clean floors at walmart, costco, lowe’s and multiple airports in the U.S. and are expected to launch in japan next year – read more. the industrial robot population has risen to 1.8 million and according to research firm international data corp, by 2019 35 percent of leading organizations in logistics, health, utilities, and resources will explore the use of robots to automate operations. in the industrial revolution, machines took over many of the physical tasks we used to do but humans were still left with all the cognitive tasks. this time, as machines start to take on many of the cognitive tasks too, there’s the worrying question: what will be left for us humans?

 

 

they shoo you from your job, then security bots shoo you from the streets

tech predictions 2018 robots
knightscope’s K9 is being used to patrol the streets
image © knightscope

 

 

robots are moving steadily into the surveillance market to form security bot squad and costing a mere $7 an hour to rent the motorised henchmen cost a cut below the wage of an actual human. manufacturer knightscope provides automated guards with multiple high-definition cameras for 360-degree vision, spotting crime and identifying known criminals. meanwhile their also being used to shoo homeless people off the streets – read more.

 

 

raining robot cats and dogs

tech predictions 2018 robots
the autonomous robot aibo can ‘form an emotional bond with members of the household’
images © SONY

 

 

our future pets may be plastic and metal instead of flesh and blood. son revived it’s robotic dog aibo and for those who can remember, when it stopped manufacturing parts in 2014, owners were genuinely distressed that it meant the impending ‘death’ of their pets — even going so far as to hold a funeral ceremony for them – see more. in june 2018, japanese company yukai engineering will launch the qooboo cat cushion, a soft, round ‘cushion-tailed therapy robot’ that reacts to strokes, just as a loving pet would. artificially furry friends like the the joy for all companion, hasbro’s line of reactive robot dogs and cats, and paro, a robotic seal made for therapy applications, have been used successfully for dementia patients experiencing anxiety and distress. robotic dogs and cats continue to garner the love and attention of owners around the world.

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