–The Obsolete Man. The Twilight Zone (2.29)
Robots are ubiquitous in human culture; not only have they been conceived in the minds of modern scientists, but within the imaginations of humankind’s greatest inventors, philosophers and teachers. Greek mythology gave us the story of Pygmalion, in which a sculptor fashions a beautiful, female figure and begs Aphrodite to make her into real flesh and blood. Leonardo da Vinci drew sketches in the 15th century of what is arguably the first conception of a humanoid robot. The 1930’s brought Elektro, the first walking, talking and smoking robot which was introduced to a large audience. We’ve come quite a way from 1495 C.E.
Now, engineers have been creating machines capable of performing duties too dangerous or too full of drudgery, freeing people from such tasks. For perilous feats such as storming into a burning house, a mobile robot could prove invaluable, performing surveillance of the home’s interior before sending in firemen and limiting human casualties. But what of the jobs that require no valor, no education, no specialized set of skills? Within a couple decades, we will see robots who cook and serve food, dispense tissue paper to those ill or experiencing emotional distress, fulfill our sexual desires, and maybe even watch over our children. For developed nations, this means an evolutionary bottleneck and a restructuring of society, for priorities will inevitably change. Initially, robotics will be placed in enviornments where sterility is necessity, speed and accuracy is mandatory, and labor costs can be cut. Food preparation, janitorial services, factory work on conveyor lines, all are markets in which robotic labor would become more efficient for companies. But, these machines are not all merely pieces of metal with bolts and wires; some will have, at the very least, a modicum of autonomy. As these machines perform such duties, they will inevitably move to other sectors of society, taking their own position in the workforce, while they become more intelligent, and improve their efficacy.
Watch a daring (demo) rescue by humanoid robot, Nexi: