Robots will soon be a necessity but they won’t take all our jobs

robots 2019 jobs

(Unsplash, 2019)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Stelian Coros, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, ETH Zurich


In the future, robots will be ubiquitous but they will not take everyone’s jobs. Advances in the field should pave the way to a future in which robots and humans can work together with ease.

There are four key trends in robotics at present.

1. Adaptability

The recent surge in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies is a boon for robotics. Indeed, with applications ranging from personal assistance to therapy, and from social companionship to search-and-rescue, the socioeconomic promise of this field is now unquestionable. Whether to augment human capabilities in the workplace, to help with chores around our homes, or to increase the effectiveness of disaster-response operations, future generations of robots will need human-level mobility and manipulation skills to perform an increasingly diverse array of tasks.

2. Personalisation

Thanks to new technology and continued innovation, the process of creating robots will become significantly more accessible than it is today. Intuitive interfaces and software will enable the design of entirely customized robots, perfectly adapted to different tasks and to the needs and preferences of users.

By lowering the barriers to entry in the field of robotics, a much broader segment of the population will have an opportunity to engage in activities that are currently restricted to domain experts.

This has the potential to influence the field as profoundly as open source software has shaped the IT landscape. The idea here is for human designers to create bespoke robots with minimal effort in a user-friendly software platform. In short, engineering meets AI, helping people to upskill in order to adapt to the fast-changing world of work that is quickly becoming a defining challenge of our generation.

3D printed soft robot hand designed by Martina Skvaro from ZHdK.
Image: Stelian Coros, Computational Robotics Lab at ETH Zurich

3. On-demand delivery

This trend takes the ability to customize robots even further. The production and assembly of 3D-printed parts not only enables on the spot custom-designed robots, but also self-assembly on-site. It is like LEGO for scientists. Researchers wanting to deploy a robot for a task in the field would be able to design it according to their criteria and actually generate its components themselves, before assembling and using it immediately.

Customers interested in companion robots could, in a similar way, select their preferences, complete their order on one day, and enjoy their purchase the next day – all without breaking the bank.

4. Choreography

AI is also teaching robots how to move, thus automating the learning process by which they grasp the rules of the environment in which they evolve and how to avoid or react to obstacles.

Robots have traditionally moved in a slow, cumbersome fashion. Novel trajectory optimization allows users to generate walking, rolling, gliding, and even skating motions – again, as required or preferred. These motions emerge based on the components used to design each individual robot.

This feature, in turn, allows robot motions and behaviours with stable, physically-viable motions that are realistic and compelling. Using this new design methodology, a diverse array of hybrid legged or wheeled mobile robots can not only be imagined, but also realised.

Robot on wheels created by the Computational Robotics Lab.
Image: Stelian Coros, Computational Robotics Lab at ETH Zurich

What is next in robotics?

Emerging digital fabrication technologies and novel materials are paving the way to increasingly lifelike robots. The crucial trend will be dealing with complexity.

The disruptive power of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies comes from their ability to fabricate designs of unmatched geometric complexity using a continually expanding range of materials. More remarkable still, AM allows the mechanical properties of printed structures to be engineered based on high-level specifications, by digitally controlling the geometric arrangement and composition of individual base materials.

By mastering the unprecedented fabrication capabilities enabled by AM, over the next decade we will be able to create synthetic structures that approach the mechanical sophistication of their biological counterparts.

This will lead to new breeds of robots that will resemble biomechanical systems in both form and function. These robots will abandon traditional designs that rely exclusively on stiff materials and actuators in favour of compliant alternatives that will redefine their performance, efficiency, robustness and safety characteristics.

While robots often belong to the realm of science fiction, technology is facilitating their integration into society. The trends discussed above show that we are closer than we think to robots becoming ubiquitous.

At the same time, these advances will all help to create more meaningful human-robot interactions, avoiding the dreaded scenario whereby robots take over everyone’s jobs. On the contrary, they have the potential to provide much needed assistance that is both complementary and beneficial.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Major UN aid operation for 650,000 gets underway across Syria-Jordan border

Electronic cigarette – is it really a safer alternative to smoking?

Eliminating hepatitis calls for ‘bold political leadership, with investments to match,’ UN health chief says

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Venezuela-Colombia baby breakthrough, Italy piles on rescue boat pressure, States must combat hate, Kashmir rights latest and a musical plea to combat CAR hunger

Millions at risk if Syria’s war moves to last redoubt of Idlib, warns senior aid official

German political spillovers: ECB’s Draghi resists first attacks by AfD

In the future of work it’s jobs, not people, that will become redundant

Car rentals: EU action leads to clearer and more transparent pricing

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Eco-warriors’ fight climate change in South Africa

3 lessons from India in creating equal access to vaccines

Schaeuble wants IMF out and bailouts ‘a la carte’ with Germany only to gain

EU Trust Fund for Africa: new migration-related actions to protect vulnerable people and foster resilience of host communities in North of Africa

Tax revenues in Asian and Pacific economies rebound

Digital Assembly 2019: new actions on quantum, EU-Africa taskforce report and digital start-ups

Violence on the rise in Darfur following Sudan military takeover, but UN-AU peacekeeping mission maintains ‘robust posture’

‘More support’ vital to put Afghanistan back on a ‘positive trajectory’ – top UN officials

The EU learns about fishing and banking from tiny Iceland

UN member states express their will to tackle global migration but specific actions are still missing

What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it right

Changing the EU copyright law won’t bring us much closer to Digital Single Market

AIESEC Vlog

Governments should step up their efforts to give people skills to seize opportunities in a digital world

Ukraine-EU deal sees the light but there’s no defeat for Russia

The EU will always have a stable partner in Montenegro, says President Đukanović

This house is made entirely out of recycled rubbish

“A sustainable economy, low-carbon, resource-efficient, resilient and more competitive on the global stage”, EU Commissioner Vella in a Sting Exclusive

More than half a million Rohingya in Bangladesh get ID cards for first time: UN refugee agency

Why sustainable products are a win-win for all of us

UN rights chief calls for international inquiry into Kashmir violations

Lagarde’s metamorphoses, not a laughing matter

A rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the war-torn Yemen

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

EU presses India for a free trade agreement

The challenges of Chinese investment in Latin America

Execution of juvenile offender in Iran ‘deeply distressing’ – UN rights chief

Parliament pushes for cleaner cars on EU roads by 2030

A day in the life of a Rohingya refugee

These are the next big products in consumer technology

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive

3 ways to rebuild trust in how we regulate technology

Accelerating a more sustainable industrial revolution with digital manufacturing

Christine Lagarde: the three priorities for the global economy

The European Commission, European Investment Bank and Breakthrough Energy Ventures establish a new €100 million fund to support clean energy investments

UN Environment Assembly 2017: where the world convenes to #BeatPollution

Afghanistan can rely on international support along harrowing road to peace, and beyond

South Sudan’s foreseen genocide: from “Never Again” to “Again and Again and Again”?

Precision medicine should be accessible to all

In Marrakech, UN chief urges world leaders to ‘breathe life’ into historic global migration pact

Can the Americans alone determine the future of Syria?

UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis

We lack a global framework for saving our environment. Here’s how we change that

Praising Roma’s contributions in Europe, UN expert urges end to rising intolerance and hate speech

On Youth Education: “Just a normal day in the life of a medical student”

Amazon indigenous groups want to create a nature sanctuary the size of Mexico

Lack of basic water facilities risks millions of lives globally: UN health agency

Merkel, Mercedes and Volkswagen to abolish European democracy

Young people worldwide can ‘determine the future of migration,’ says UN senior official

Russia won’t let Ukraine drift westwards in one piece

Amid strong outlook for U.S. economy, risks abound

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s