The Future ?

The robotic industry is seen by some economic forecasters as the next boom industry, similar to the IT boom in 2000. The Japanese government has predicted that the robotics industry will soon expand to become a $13.2 billion dollar industry, whilst the South Korean have committed to nurturing their nation’s robot industry as they believe it has the potential to grow into a $39.4 billion dollar industry.

Gartner sees things like robots and drones replacing a third of all workers by 2025, and whether you want to believe it or not, is entirely your business.

Googles Top rated Futuristic Speaker Thomas Frey in his talk TEDxReset in Istanbul presented that 2 Billion Jobs would disappear by 2030 , and Robotics was one of the five technologies that would be responsible .

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses… it’s progressing,” Bill Gates says . “Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set… 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

The arrival of humanoid robots should be a cause for celebration. With the robots doing most of the work, it should be possible for everyone to go on perpetual vacation. Instead, robots will displace millions of employees, leaving them unable to find work and therefore destitute. We believe that every such change offers us a chance or an opportunity , even if it is so , are we really prepared for this disruptive change .

As per Gartner "The shift is from doing to implementing, so the doers go away but someone still has to implement," that means that the current businesses need to see this opportunity and our students and educational institutions should be provided the tools to take up such opportunities .

Moore's Law

You have probably heard about Moore's Law. It says that CPU power doubles every 18 to 24 months or so. History shows Moore's law very clearly.

Taking Moore's law literally, you would expect processor power to increase by a factor of 1,000 every 15 or 20 years. Between 1981 and 2001, that was definitely the case. Clock speed improved by a factor of over 300 during that time, and the number of transistors per chip increased by a factor of 1,400. A processor in 2002 is 10,000 times faster than a processor in 1982 was. This trend has been in place for decades, and there is nothing to indicate that it will slow down any time soon. Scientists and engineers always get around the limitations that threaten Moore's law by developing new technologies.

What if we simply extrapolate out, taking the idea that every 20 years things improve by a factor of 1,000 or 10,000? What we get is a machine in 2020 that has a processor running at something like 10 trillion operations per second.

What if we extrapolate another 20 years after that, to 2040? A typical home machine at that point will be 1,000 times faster than the 2020 machine. Human brains are thought to be able to process at a rate of approximately one quadrillion operations per second. A CPU in the 2040 time frame could have the processing power of a human brain, and it will cost $1,000. It will have a petabyte (one quadrillion bytes) of RAM. It will have one exabyte of storage space. An exabyte is 1,000 quadrillion bytes. That's what Moore's law predicts.

The point is simple. In the 2050 time frame, you can expect to buy a $1,000 home computer that has the computing power and memory of the human brain. Manufacturers will marry that computer with a humanoid robotic chassis like ASIMO, a fuel cell and advanced AI software to create autonomous humanoid robots with startling capabilities. It is not really hard to imagine that we will have robots like C-3PO walking around and filling jobs as early as the 2030 time frame. What's missing from robots right now is brainpower, and by 2030 we will start to have more silicon brainpower than we know what to do with.

As CPU chips and memory systems finally reach parity with the human brain, and then surpass it, robots will be able to perform nearly any normal job that a human performs today. The self-service kiosks , ATM's , etc that are springing up everywhere are the first sign of the trend.

The problem, of course, is that all of these robots will eliminate a huge portion of the jobs currently held by human beings. For example, there are 3.5 million jobs in the fast food industry alone. Many of those will be lost to kiosks. Many more will be lost to robots that can flip burgers and clean bathrooms. Eventually they will all be lost. The only people who will still have jobs in the fast food industry will be the senior management team at corporate headquarters.

The same sort of thing will happen in retail stores, hotels, airports, factories, construction sites, delivery companies and so on. All of these jobs will evaporate at approximately the same time, leaving all of those workers unemployed. The Post Office, FedEx and UPS together employed over a million workers in 2002. Once robots can drive the trucks and deliver the packages at a much lower cost than human workers can, those 1,000,000 or so employees will be out on the street.

The Vision Thing

One of the key capabilities limiting robotic expansion at the moment is image processing -- the ability of robots to look at a scene like a human does and detect all the objects in the scene. Without general, flexible vision algorthms, it is hard for a robot to do much. For example, it is hard for a blind robot to clean a bathroom or drive a car. Part of the problem is raw CPU power, but that problem will be solved over the next 20 to 30 years because of Moore's law. The other part is a software problem. We don't have really good algorithms yet. But it is not much to expect that we will see significant progress in the image processing field over the next 20 years. Think about the changes that will take place once basic research in image processing yields the algorithms we need. Suddenly it will be easy for robots to walk around and manipulate objects in any human environment.

Robotic cars and trucks are one obvious application for vision systems.

Robots with vision systems will be able to do all the cleaning in every hotel, store, airport and restaurant.

Robots with vision can stack brick, lay tile, paint and put on roofs all day and all night.

Robots with vision can easily stock shelves in stores.

Armies of robots with built-in night vision will be able to provide security and policing unlike anything we can imagine today. And so on.

A single research area -- computer vision -- will have a tremendous impact once it reaches its goal of general, flexible image processing algorithms.

This is analogous to the development of airplanes. Nothing happened in the field of aviation until the Wright Brothers made the breakthrough that got the first airplane off the ground. 44 short years after the breakthrough, supersonic flight was possible. Once robots have flexible, accurate vision systems, the pace of change will be unbelievably rapid and unstoppable. Tens of millions of people will become unemployed over the course of just two to three decades ,ARE WE READY for this CHANGE ?


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