Every technological revolution had its sceptics and technophobes, but when it comes to robots, our fears of robots taking over the world tend to run wild. Well, it’s not the robots that are taking over the world- it’s the high-tech people.
Technology has already taken over our lives and robots are just a direct extension of that. Technology has done much more good things for us than bad – we are more connected, healthier, more educated, less lonely and much more elaborated.
Amazon made consumption comfortable, Google made searching easy, Microsoft made us manage our life much better, and Apple made devices sexy and fun. 10 years ago, my grandmother couldn’t imagine that she would be able to get pictures of her grandchildren skiing in the other side of the world and comment on them in real time, or video talk with her doctor while he is connected online to her vitals. 10 years ago, buying clothes was something we only did in malls and couldn’t imagine how simple and secure it would be to shop online at the best stores in the world, and for the best prices.
These are great things that great people are doing, I am convinced that their intention is doing good things for humanity and is not just about being profitable.
Robotics is about doing good in the same way, taking part of the 2-dimensional virtual space and making it physical in order to serve us- it is a natural transformation. So why are we so afraid?
let’s try to deal with the fears of robots:
Fear 1: If the robot is an AI learning device it might learn to do something bad.
Being scared of robots taking over your home is just like being scared that an iRobot vacuum cleaner will bite you one day. Like any machine, developers define the clear set of rules to what a robot can do and learn, just like you won’t expect that the iPhone will make transactions of money by itself on your behalf.
The robot is a machine designed to do specific tasks and it’s learning capabilities are limited to learn how to serve you best. The companies that are making these robots have a big reputation to keep in order to be profitable, and therefor they won’t risk it by giving the robot the ability to harm us.
Fear 2: Privacy. That hackers will use the robot to penetrate your private information and eventually your home.
Just like all IOT devices such as Alexa, smart TV, connected refrigerators or any ecommerce online transaction, when you choose to be connected your privacy is threatened.
The way to deal with this threat is by top regulations and smart technological components that protect the devices from these threats. Today, privacy technology is very mature with cyber protection technologies. We are well aware of these kinds of standards and technologies because for years we are implementing them in our military robots and over there it’s not just privacy, it can define life or death. The same technologies that Google, Amazon and Apple use in their connected devices will be implemented in home robots.
Of course, there is always the risk of hackers… but it is exactly like there is a risk in flying and still we choose to travel by planes.
Fear 3: The government can use this information to spy on me.
The issue of privacy vs security has been in the news for a long time. The most well-known incidence of the latter category was a February 2016 court case in the United States District Court of California when the FBI wanted Apple to create and electronically sign new software that would enable the FBI to unlock a work-issued iPhone 5C it recovered from one of the shooters in a December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people and injured 22, apple refused. The FBI later withdrew their request, but the case had made a big impact over the privacy issue of big companies against the government.
As technology will advance, the restrictions of what and when the government can use will be clearer and prohibited by law, but we can see already today that big companies are doing everything they can to keep their reputation and your information private.
If the government could use all of the information google had, they would know everything about you, but then google wouldn’t be google.
Fear 4: Robots will replace us and take our jobs.
The way I see it, robots don’t take peoples jobs, they transform them into different/better ones.
A robot replaces humans in the less attractive jobs that are physical, monotonous and are usually under paid, instead it creates new jobs for us. For example: the pool robot replaced pool cleaners worldwide, but created thousands of new jobs – designing pool robots, engineering, IT, mechanics, marketing, service and repair, sales etc.…
In the past, there was a job called “the iceman”: people that delivered ice to your homes, a job that was completely erased when the refrigerator was invented. Every technological revolution made a number of jobs irrelevant for humans but in the long run it created more companies, and job opportunities for humanity.
Fear 5: Robots will make us coldhearted people that don’t know how to interact with each other.
The fear that the social media harms our social skills is rising as we see more technology come out, while our house is filled with technology that is supposed to serve us, we find ourselves serving it. The technology that is supposed to keep us connected is the main thing that is keeping us disconnected from one another.
- We are spending almost 3 hours a day with our heads down, holding our smartphones.
- We click, tap or swipe on our phone 2,617 times a day.
- The western culture spends over ten hours a day in front of screens.
The way I see it, robots are not here to make us more technological, and are not here to replace our loved ones. They are here to connect us with them better and make us stop working for our technology. A robot lets us consume technology in the most natural way, it comes to us, lets us be handsfree and heads up, understands us and is the easiest and fastest way to get connected without disconnecting from real life.
Today, video calls consumption on skype, Facebook messenger and Duo is higher than ever, because it is the best experience to interact with someone who is not next to you. A robot is the ultimate device for that because it will let us be handsfree as we move around the house and talk in the most natural, personal way. A robot takes away tasks that we don’t want to do in order to let us concentrate on the things that are important to us: our loved ones.
Robots are not supposed to be human, but to make us better humans.
As a big believer in robots, I think that we shouldn’t let our fears lead us, but we should lead them by giving people the answers to overcome them.
Just like people today are not afraid to leave their house and turn on their robotic vacuum cleaner, without fearing it will wreck their homes, in the future, they won’t be afraid of personal robots assisting them in their day to day life.
The more great, reliable, and intuitive robots we make, the less fears humanity will have of robots, and the more it will benefit from them.