Sunday, October 23, 2005

Robots Mainstream By 2006, 2007?

A good while ago, the UN's annual World Robotics report predicted that robots would enter mainstream use in 2007, much like computers and Internet have done years before.

These predictions are based on extrapolations of available data. Just as computer- and Internet-use has been doubling every year or so, so is robot-use doubling now.

Extrapolation is an extremely valueable technique for predicting the future, as can be read in the Singularity FAQ.

From the article:

Seven times more robots will helping us out with the cleaning, security and entertainment in three years' time, as their price falls and they get smarter.


Two-thirds of the 607,000 domestic robots in use were bought in 2003, says the UN's annual World Robotics report.

By the end of 2007, 4.1 million robots will be doing jobs in homes, says the report by the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the International Federation of Robotics.

As well as the vacuuming, they will take over tasks like mowing the lawn, cleaning pools, and washing windows.

Robots like Irobi, unveiled this week by Korean company Yujin Robotics, will be able to multiple tasks.

It is a net-based, all-in-one family robot complete with educational functions, home security, diary, entertainment, and message delivery capability.

Now, there is another point of view from the American-based robots are going to be big in 2006.

From the article:
But specialised robots are finding their way into homes, with robotic vacuums already doing the cleaning duties in half a million US homes.

This trend is set to continue, according to the CEA.

Domestic robots that can control home networks, sort laundry and scrub the kitchen floor are not far off and are likely to be sold in much the same way as other household appliances are.

They will not, however, become mass market until they have reached the prices of other labour saving appliances and are proved to be reliable and effective, said the CEA.

Marshall Brain, the founder of, maintains a blog about our future Robotic Nation, which is very interesting and worty of taking a look at. He has also written an essay entitled Robotic Nation, in which he writes about what he thinks will be the implications of the 'rise of the robots'.

Those implications are, in summary:
  • More and more automisation of jobs at the bottom of the ladder as robots get smarter and cheaper.
  • Vast unemployment as a direct consequence hereof, and possible economical devestation if no measures are taken in time.
  • A leisure society, as a result of modifying the economy such that everybody has a guaranteed liveable income. Robots do all the work.

Marshall has written a lot more on robots. For example, take a look at his book Manna. Or his Robotic Nation FAQ. Or his book The Day You Discard Your Body.

It's inspiring material. In fact, I thought that last one was so inspiring, that I wrote a blogpost on the Future Of Virtual Environments right after reading it.

Marshall has written so much on the topic... he actually seems to be quite obsessed with them. ;)

And justly so. Robots will transform our lives, just like computers and the Internet have done before.

For more info on robots, the latest robot news, and more links-in-general:

Just remember folks...

The Internet is not exactly the last revolution you'll have ever seen in your lifetime.

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Anonymous said...

Nice, but how the hell is the average Joe going to earn a living if robots suddenly begin displacing the working class?

I hope nanotech and molecular manufacturing is what it's cracked up to be, alleviating scarcity, making supercomputers out of sand and all that.

I'm all for Brain and his stipend idea. If nanotech can create essentials for literally, dirt cheap, $25,000 a year would be plenty.

Jan-Willem Bats said...

I would have to agree.

It is entirely possible that our slow, Singularity-unaware politicians will not be able to cope with the ever rapid changes.

They can't do it now. Why assume they'll be able to do it 5 or 10 years from now?

At some point, an influential, Singularity-aware individual (Kurzweil?) is going to have to stand up and advise the world's politicians to initiate some type of crash-course to completely remodel our entire society in a short timespan.

Let's hope we're going to see that leisure society in the coming years. I can't believe that 99% of the people on this planet are fulltime slaves to the system, creaking out 8 hours a day, not having time for their own lives.

Today is pretty pathetic, actually.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Trying to project our current economic models into the accelerating future is like attempting to load a reel of magnetic tape into a DVD-ROM drive. Can't be done.

Things have got to change A.S.A.P!

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Diana said...

In science fiction, the Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three rules written by Isaac Asimov, which almost all positronic robots appearing in his fiction must obey. Introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround," although foreshadowed in a few earlier stories, the Laws state the following: sportsbook

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.