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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Welcome to the Robotic Age

“You just can't differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.”
― Isaac Asimiv; I, Robot

In an earlier era, robots used to be these dorky things that the Japanese were endlessly fascinated by, and created in all shapes and sizes. The rest of us looked on indulgently as it seemed to be one of those ways that the Japanese are different from the rest of us. Truly we have to thank them for keeping interest in robots alive, while everyone else fell for iPhones and smartwatches and whatever else was in fashion.

In movies robots were shrouded in the fantasy packaging of the good guys super aide - like Marvin in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, R2-D2 and See-Threepio in Star Wars.

But what ended up getting designed could scare the hell out of us sometimes. Google-owned Boston Dynamics has been a prime culprit, putting out some seriously aggro bots.

The reality is that, Boston Dyanmics has been hard at work, so robots are  getting better at acrobatics;

And they are definitely hear to stay, and here for good.

Here are some ways that robots will be helping humans in the years to come;

1) Robots and Chatbots to give company to the elderly

Powered by NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) and the increasingly sophisticated Voice Recognition Technology, robots can keep elders company, alleviate their loneliness, remind them to take medication and even alert human caregivers in an emergency.

Check out Paro and ElliQ who could be the next generation caregivers to the elderly;

2) Aiding people with autism
With the ability to be patient, helpful and unaffected by human moodswings, AI based bots can form relationships with autistic people, while at the same time helping them to connect better with the real world.

Wisconsin based emotion tracking company Affectiva is working on AI tools that help autistic people develop real world communication skills, and understand other people better.

3) Kitchen Robots
The dream assistants who can take care of kitchen jobs better than humans, do not fall sick and don't need to take holidays. What's not to love?

Jokes apart, the kitchen assistant robots are designed to maximise efficiency and speed while maintaining consistent quality - something that even seasoned cooks find hard to go.

For example, Café X is powered by Gordon, an industrial robot who makes an unlikely barista. Gordon can produce high quality coffee drinks in way shorter time than a human could - while maintaining consistency. What's more, he can service way more people than a human can - and he can work overtime.

Sally, an automated robot with startup Chowbiotics, is a robot who can make more than 1000 variations of fully customised salads using 21 basic ingredients

There are many more examples, and more in the pipeline. What's interesting here, is that traditionally robots have been used for industrial tasks - especially ones which are hazardous to humans or require high precision. Now, we see them doing more human jobs and actually replacing people.

Digital Trends - why robots are good for us
Wired - When Robots invade the kitchen