Robots: Fact or Fiction

Starting in 2020, we will augment our Topic Roundtables with white papers exploring each of these myths, with reference to the latest research and reports. See other topics in Silicon Valley Robotics Reports.

A good short reference: 5 Common Myths About Robots Debunked – Energy.gov

What are the biggest myths of robotics?

Myth One: Robopocalypse

Robopocalypse, or the fear of robots taking over everything falls into two parts. The first is the fear of robots taking all the jobs, starting with the low skilled jobs and working upwards.

The second part is that AI or Artificial Intelligence, will be smarter than people and take away our control. When embodied in the form of a robot, this is the 'Terminator' scenario.

It also makes roboticists laugh uncontrollably – because this video shows the world's most sophisticated robots trying to do some simple human tasks, like open a door. 

While AI can be smarter than people in very limited ways, there is still no sign of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). AGI is intelligence capable of understanding that it is a 'thing', and that might have intent or agency. Our best researchers can not agree on what the building blocks would be for creating AGI, let alone how long it would take to get there.

In the meantime, Artificial Stupidity or Stupid Intelligences ie. computers and automation are capable of creating a huge mess, for example the “Flash Crash" or automated stock trading crash of 2010, now a recurring phenomenon.

Myth Two: Robots take jobs

The greatest danger humanity faces, even greater than climate change, is lack of labor in the face of a steadily aging global population.

In the 1800s, agriculture was the world's dominant occupation, but since then the majority of all jobs have shifted off the land and into the factory and city. Manufacturing peaked in the 1960s, but since then many jobs that didn't previously exist have come into being.

Jobs are becoming less 'dull, dirty and dangerous'. These are the jobs that are usually given to immigrants as more and more workers are choosing jobs that suit them – and take the robot out of the human

However, the US is one of many nations facing an aging population. Today, one in five people in the US are over the age of 65 and this will continue to worsen, following in Japan and China's footsteps.

Aging population in Japan 

Myth Three: Jobs in robotics are all highly skilled

Building, designing, and servicing robots is going to be another new job sector, using a wide range of skillsets.

Myth Five: Hardware is hard

It's never been easier to build robots or smart hardware than today. Between the maker and startup movements, everything you need to learn can be found online. Hobbyists can do sophisticated prototyping, and access the global hardware supply chain. Affordable, open source or free equipment exists for: building circuit boards, designing circuits, digital design, 3D printing, CNC or milling, and via Github and other sites, you can reuse designs and code.

And finally, there are growing numbers of hardware/maker spaces where you can find people with skills, experience and similar interests. In the US, schools, universities, community colleges and libraries are incorporating maker spaces. Silicon Valley Robotics operates out of Circuit Launch, the first of a new breed of cowork space/makerspace/hardware education space. Circuit Launch provides classes, equipment and community to help you build anything.

Attend the next Silicon Valley Robotics presentations (see our calendar) or sign up for our next webinar:

November 22 – “Robotics 2.0" – Andra Keay

We really are facing a robot revolution, but the hype and misinformation in media conceals the information that you need to know; about the technology timeline and the implications for you, for your company, for your employees and family, whatever industry you are in. In 2015, the head of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Gill Pratt, said that we are experiencing a ‘Cambrian Explosion’ in robotics. What are the technological, economic and social drivers, and the corresponding implications of this robot revolution? How can we evolve to flourish in this new era?

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

  • Understand the history and limitations of current robotics technology.
  • Identify the characteristics of new robotics technologies, the pace of change and the ensuing opportunities or issues.
  • Explore the current commercial robotics landscape, and the likely 5 year, 10 year, 20 year timeline.
  • Observe the research robotics landscape which will create the robotics technologies of the near future.
  • Learn how robotics (embodied AI) automation can improve your workflows
  • Gain some ideas on how you can implement robotics

This training course is for you because…

  • You need to make decisions about technology strategy for your company, to understand what is hype, what is real and what is really next.
  • Relevant to you whether you have engineering and computer science background or not.
  • This won’t help you build robots, but will help you understand the business of robots.

Attend the next Silicon Valley Robotics presentations (see our calendar) or sign up for our next webinar:

November 22 – “Robotics 2.0" – Andra Keay

We really are facing a robot revolution, but the hype and misinformation in media conceals the information that you need to know; about the technology timeline and the implications for you, for your company, for your employees and family, whatever industry you are in. In 2015, the head of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Gill Pratt, said that we are experiencing a ‘Cambrian Explosion’ in robotics. What are the technological, economic and social drivers, and the corresponding implications of this robot revolution? How can we evolve to flourish in this new era?

What you’ll learn-and how you can apply it

  • Understand the history and limitations of current robotics technology.
  • Identify the characteristics of new robotics technologies, the pace of change and the ensuing opportunities or issues.
  • Explore the current commercial robotics landscape, and the likely 5 year, 10 year, 20 year timeline.
  • Observe the research robotics landscape which will create the robotics technologies of the near future.
  • Learn how robotics (embodied AI) automation can improve your workflows
  • Gain some ideas on how you can implement robotics

This training course is for you because…

  • You need to make decisions about technology strategy for your company, to understand what is hype, what is real and what is really next.
  • Relevant to you whether you have engineering and computer science background or not.
  • This won’t help you build robots, but will help you understand the business of robots.