The future with robotics and AI is bright

By | 4 minute read | July 15, 2016

Image of a robotic arm

Since the dawn of technology, there have been fears surrounding the future. What will these advances bring? How will they change our lives? What does this mean for my livelihood? In the twenty-first century these fears are the same. “Will robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) put me out of a job?” The answer is yes, but also no. Allow me to explain.

We are at a point in history where the impossible has become reality. We work in partnership with machines, software, technology, and yes, robots.  Technology has infiltrated every facet of our world with spectacular results. Throughout history we have seen technological advancements drastically improve quality of life. The steam engine, the sewing machine, the light-bulb, and the internet were all met with fear, skepticism, and resulted in the destruction of certain industries—but they opened the door to a future of possibilities.

Today is different

In the past, technological advancements moved slowly—the world moved slowly. In these times, job markets had gradual slopes and industries had generations to take root and blossom. Today, however, technological advancements are moving at a near constant rate. Some of this can be accredited to Moore’s Law. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted that every two years the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit would double. What this really means is that every two years our computers would significantly improve in complexity and ability. This prediction has held true since 1971. Moore’s law proves that technology has been advancing far faster than even a decade ago. With these increasing timelines, our technological advancements come in turbulent bursts, and not at a gradual waltz as they once did.

Another reason that we are seeing massive growth is because education is much more widely available than in the past. This can be credited to technology. From the invention of the printing press in 1440, information began to spread more rapidly than previously possible. Fast forward to the invention of the internet and personal computers, unimaginable amounts of information became available to anyone with a connection to the web. This spread of knowledge has sparked creativity and development the world over.

Creativity is king

Today’s markets are optimized for individuals with big ideas and passion behind them. If you have an idea, and some technical know-how, the possibilities are endless. Our technical world values scientists and creatives alike. With advances in technology, the human race has grown. Today’s advance in AI and robotics will prove no different than technological advances of the past. Artificial intelligence will enable man to grow in ways that we cannot yet begin to fathom.

There is always more work to be done

Mosaic developer and Netscape founder, Marc Andreessen makes an argument against AI and robotics fears. Marc writes, “This sort of thinking is textbook Luddism, relying on a “lump-of-labor” fallacy – the idea that there is a fixed amount of work to be done. The counterargument to a finite supply of work comes from economist Milton Friedman — Human wants and needs are infinite, which means there is always more to do.” Marc Andreessen Article Andreessen argues that workers will adapt to the future wants and needs of consumers, and new industries will be born. We have seen this in the not so distant past. For example, with the introduction of the smart phone, came the app-developer boom. Entrepreneur magazine says that by 2017, the app market will be a $77 Billion dollar industry. Entrepreneur Magazine This industry was unimaginable to us before we held the first smart phones in our hands. In just the same way, the growth of AI and robotics will bring forth new industries and professionals.

Designing a brighter, smarter future with robotics and ai

When the conversation turns to the future of robotics and AI, many fail to realize the possibilities and opportunities that artificial intelligence can bring to our world. As AI becomes a more concrete reality, and becomes a household phenomenon, services that are currently unavailable to some, will become universally available to all. Education can be tailored to individual students around the world, health-care can be brought into the home for lower costs, creativity will blossom in a world where we are less focused on our everyday tasks, but instead spend time pondering the possibilities of the future, and how we can continue to improve on a global scale. In a world where every child can read and has access to information from around the world, prejudices and ignorance will be a thing of the past, and global collaboration will be the future.

If you’re interested in learning more, please check out this blog post on AI capabilities. If you’d like to see how Watson technologies are already revolutionizing the world we live in, you may find this blog post about Watson in financial industries useful.

At IBM Watson we are passionate about creating an inspired future and illuminating the partnership between man and machine. What are your thoughts on the future of robotics and artificial intelligence?