Sunday, September 29, 2013

That's my Robot!

An article that I stumbled across got me thinking about the implications of robots going mainstream. Yes, I'm looking down the road at a time in the near future when a person may decide to walk down the street with his metal companion or worker beside him or in tow. Why would someone take or have a robot with them? To carry things, do work, personal protection, as in a bodyguard, or because you just want to attract attention and turn heads. Questions immediately begin to surface and problems arise when you are told at the mall that you can't bring that "thing" in here.

Robots Will Have Huge Effect On Our Culture
The article I referred to was written by Arik Hesseldahl on Sept 21 and posted on the website, All Things D. It explores the idea of building your own robot, what would you have it do? If you're the type who’s into building stuff and coding, you may soon get your chance to answer that question for real, courtesy of an interesting project coming from the labs of chip-maker Intel. The company’s futurist, Brian David Johnson was recently in New York at the Maker Faire to let folks get a look at Jimmy, an open source robot assembled from parts fabricated on a 3-D printer. He also showed off a non-working model of Jimmy on CBS’s Saturday Morning today.

Once assembled, Jimmy — or whatever you choose to name it — would be as readily programmable as a smartphone. You could also download and install apps that other people develop as easily as you would install them on an iPhone or Android device. Johnson said the plan is to create a kit that would be available for purchase for less than $1,000 no later than May of next year. He said he hopes to get the whole cost down to under $500. He was also giving away copies of a book called “21st Century Robot” that contains the open source files for printing the robot parts.

Imagine some of the ways our culture would begin to change if robots started to appear on the streets of our cities in the same way wireless phones have. Most likely robot ownership would become a status symbol. People may soon choose to buy a robot and finance it the same way they purchase a car. When you begin to see how man has linked himself to machines and even given them personalities and gender traits we begin to move into the area of a robot companion. In the 1999 Austin Powers movie "The Spy Who Shagged Me" a humanoid fembot appears, this gives new meaning to the term sex doll.

Depending on the price the most sophisticated robots may become a toy and tool only for the wealthy, this could cause mass envy and resentment. A robot has the potential to assume the role of a servant or slave without much of the negative problems each present. What kind of laws and regulations might develop? Some of these issues are already surfacing when it comes to the "driverless car" recently being talked about in the news. Remember robots can come in many sizes and forms with a variety of capabilities thus often making them hard to define.

To extend this idea of private robot ownership in the near future imagine how as the capabilities of robots increase they could become multifunctional and fill many needs. Think of the children's toy transformers and how a robot could extend limbs and thus change size. Imagine if a robot would have pegs on his legs and when it leaned over you could step on and ride it like a Segway, this could replace the car in many urban settings.  As robots take our jobs and displace our relationships it could become very interesting.  Yes, we could be looking at the face of a strange new world.

Footnote;  Your comments are welcome and encouraged. If you have time check out the archives for other posts that may be of interest to you. Another article about robots can be found below,

Footnote #2;  A newer post looks at the ugly side of technology that is being pursued,


  1. Here is an interesting story on how in Korea if you can't make it to a sporting event you can send a Robot in your place! This story gives you an idea on the kind of future we may be looking at. The link is below.