Heartland Robotics Chairman and CTO Rodney Brooks asks: What will it take for robots to be added to the toolchest of the makers of American manufacturing, so that they can increase productivity, provide better jobs for American workers, and compete even more strongly in our globalized world?
Following on President Obama's call to "begin again the work of remaking America," Maker Faire 2009 was organized around the theme of Re-Make America. Held in the San Francisco Bay Area, Maker Faire celebrates what President Obama called "the risk takers, the doers, and the makers of things."
Dr. Rodney Brooks is a robotics entrepreneur and Founder, Chairman and CTO of Heartland Robotics, Inc. He is also a Founder, Board Member and former CTO (1991 - 2008) of iRobot Corp (Nasdaq: IRBT) and the Panasonic Professor of Robotics (on leave) at MIT.
Dr. Brooks is the former Director (1997 - 2007) of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and then the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received degrees in pure mathematics from the Flinders University of South Australia and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1981.
He held research positions at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, and a faculty position at Stanford before joining the faculty of MIT in 1984. He has published many papers and books in computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics, and artificial life.
Design, construction, and use of machines (robots) to perform tasks done traditionally by human beings. Robots are widely used in such industries as automobile manufacture to perform simple repetitive tasks, and in industries where work must be performed in environments hazardous to humans. Many aspects of robotics involve artificial intelligence; robots may be equipped with the equivalent of human senses such as vision, touch, and the ability to sense temperature. Some are even capable of simple decision making, and current robotics research is geared toward devising robots with a degree of self-sufficiency that will permit mobility and decision-making in an unstructured environment. Today's industrial robots do not resemble human beings; a robot in human form is called an android.
It will precisely do just that, it will rest the need to work. With automatic shipping machines, you have something to give money to get service. with resource machines you have something to give money to get served resources. automating the resource machine to return money to the government systems of social security to hand out cash to the public. Now the public is free of debt with unlimited Handouts for Community service of about the press of a button. and those people will keep the machines processing. In the future we will be in paradise, vacation for 1-2 years at a time with a simple 1-day interruption for your service as a button presser. the Button will accept the transaction of the government social security and the automated resource machines, in turn providing power for cash, to be handed out to that person. Imagine pressing a button for 1,000,000 dollars and then providing energy to the world. Everyone would agree to provide energy for the world if they got paid to do it.
I liked the way he focused on the DARPA challenge, because automated transportation infrastrucure (which will lead to full-automation network-based transport) will impact our lives in a manner comparable to the introduction of AC power. If the reader is intersted, I write about this progression here:
Automated transport infrastructure will also facilitate the economical outsourcing of domestic labour, which will reduce the need for home-based robots in itself.
He should have also talked about the use of remote-control via the Internet to help out the robots: that is, using humans to cut in when (and only when) the robots software isn't yet up to the play...
A single human controller can facilitate maybe hundreds of robots by switching from one robot to the next, again with the human only cutting in as operations require it. This functionality will accelerate the implementation (and investment) of robots.
Capital and labor are inter-changeable economic inputs. Robots are cute but they are also Capital. Laborers are undependable but are human. Robots do take jobs away from people. But the rub is that people consume a very wide range of products and robots don't. Humans are the consumers that make the economy run. When there are no more jobs for people, will there be a Consumer robot model?
I'd have to agree with toasterface, people are capable of much more than dish washing, and janitorial work even without a high school diploma. by, getting robots to do the "dumb" work it allows the economy to use human potential even more significantly.