xkcd says it all. Our media representation of robots is completely missing the point. As is our 2 dimensional view of the world usually! We need 2D goggles!
Great xkcd cartoon. As usual offbeat and insightful. What next? In a world where companies sells both military bots and children’s robotic toys (iRobot. true at least in 2002) anything would seem possible. Certainty (1) is that our expectations will be wildly off – simultaneously underestimating progress in some areas while also overestimating progress in others. Certainty (2) is that we will see massive adoption of robotics which will bring the same social adjustments seen from other major technological shifts. Certainty (3) this adoption of robots will be mostly unseen, embedded in subtle ways into existing technology with focus going to the most exaggerated examples of robotics ‘as we percieve them’. One way that Certainty (3) will operate will be much as the study of Artificial Intelligence suffered from success whereby largely solving some problems (game playing, computer vision, etc, etc) led to these areas being considered stand alone fields rather than part of the main body of Artificial Intelligence. For example, while the roomba vacuum robot is a very effective independent agent, for many people it simply doesn’t cue as a "Robot". Instead it’s a clever vac. (perhaps this is why it’s not been as successful as deserved? …)
Interestingly enough, I was explaining the wonders of the Roomba to people yesterday and someone commented it was just like those pool cleaners that have been around for years… the ones that float and suck. So, it was kind of hard to be excited by it. Paradox of good design. If it’s simple and familiar, then you can’t tell when it’s a high quality product! ie, a robot not a mechanical device, or when you’ve merely stolen the robot name without actually building a robot. Remember how disappointed my mother was when she purchased a ‘robot’ vac from kmart after our roomba purchase and found she had neither a robot nor a particularly good vac.I think that iRobot ought to add a voice chip to all the Roombas. Not voice control, a voice animation conveying the impression of personality. All it would take is for your vac to say "Aye aye sir!" or "Up up and away!" or "Delighted to assist you!" everytime you push clean for the impression of robotic sophistication that is otherwise too subtle for us.
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