How will robots change the world?

When we think of robots, we often envision sci-fi-inspired, humanoid automatons. While these types of machines remain mostly fictional, there are many other types of robots in use today. But what exactly are robots? And how will they affect change in the world?

As we explore in our open step the nature of robots, robots are different from other machines because of how they interact with the world. They can make changes to their surroundings based on their actions and respond to the world around them. 

Robots are tools that can sense, reason, plan, and act on their own. They can not only perform tasks autonomously, but they can also extend human capabilities and mimic human actions. Finally, the term robot is derived from the Czech word robota, which means forced labor.

Types of robots 

  • Industrial. Perhaps the most common use of robots is for simple and repetitive industrial tasks. Examples include assembly line processes, picking and packing, welding, and similar functions. They offer reliability, accuracy, and speed. 
  • Military. More recent developments mean that military forces worldwide use robots in areas such as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), UGVs (Unmanned Ground vehicles), triage, and surveillance.
  • Service. One of the main growth areas in robotics is the personal service industry. Uses include manual tasks such as dispensing food and cleaning. 
  • Exploration. We often use robots to reach hostile or otherwise inaccessible areas. A good example of exploratory robots is in space exploration, such as the Curiosity Rover on Mars. 
  • Hazardous environments. Again, certain environments can be dangerous for humans to enter, such as disaster areas, places with high radiation, and extreme environments.
  • Medical. In the world of healthcare, Medtech robots are being used in all kinds of ways. Whether it’s managing laboratory specimens or assisting with surgery, rehabilitation, or physiotherapy. 
  • Entertainment. Increasingly (particularly during the pandemic), people are buying robots for enjoyment. There are several popular toy robots, and there are even robot restaurants and giant robot statues.  

The future of robotics: Will robots take over the world?

Robots are already all around us, whether they’re automated machines that assemble our cars or virtual assistants that use conversational interfaces to assist us around the house. However, as we have seen, they are not currently appropriate for all aspects of life. Will this, however, change in the future?

Despite fears of an AI takeover, in which machines replace humans as the world’s dominant intelligence, such a scenario appears unlikely. However, according to the business network PwC, robots could automate up to 30% of jobs by the mid-2030s.

Other reports suggest that the stock of robots worldwide could reach 20 million by 2030, with automated workers taking up to 51 million jobs in the next 10 years. So, while they may not take over the world, we can expect to see more robots in our daily lives. 

How robots will change the world

According to a McKinsey report, automation and machines will change the way we work. They predict that different skills will be required to find work across Europe. According to their model, activities requiring primarily physical and manual skills will decline by 18% by 2030, while those requiring basic cognitive skills will decrease by 28%.

Workers will need technological skills, and those with STEM expertise will be in high demand. Similarly, many roles will necessitate socioemotional skills, especially those in which robots are ineffective substitutes, such as caregiving and teaching.

Robots may also become a more integral part of our daily lives. Many simple tasks in our homes, such as cooking and cleaning, may be completely automated. Similarly, with robots that can use computer vision and natural language processing, we may see more interactive machines, such as self-driving cars and digital assistants.

Robotics may also have an impact on the future of medicine. Surgical robots can perform extremely precise operations and, with advances in artificial intelligence, could eventually perform surgeries on their own.

Machines and robots with the ability to learn could have a wider range of applications. Robots that can adapt to their surroundings, learn new processes, and change their behavior in the future will be better suited to more dynamic tasks.

Ultimately, robots have the potential to enhance our lives. As well as shouldering the burden of physically demanding or repetitive tasks, they may be able to improve healthcare, make transport more efficient, and give us more freedom to pursue creative endeavors. 

 

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