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Will robots take over the world?Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007, at 7:01 AM
Two Asimos, Honda's robot, proclaim...something. The accompanying press release doesn't say what they're excited about. (Honda photo)
Before long, the two remaining Beatles can sing that to cars which drive themselves. Humans will simply be along for the ride.
One Lexus can already park itself. Some models of Mercedes (and maybe other brands as well) have adaptive cruise control systems that automatically speed up or slow down the vehicle with no involvement from the driver.
And automation's taking over more than just cars. Two automakers are manufacturing robots.
Toyota showed off a violin-playing robot last week.
"We want to create robots that are useful for people in everyday life," a company official said.
The Associated Press reports that wheelchair-like "mobility robots" -- also displayed Thursday by Toyota -- "would offer 'bed-to-bed' services to people, including the elderly and the sick, just like cars take people 'door-to-door.'"
That has an ominous tone. Suppose robots actually do take over nursing services. What happens to the human touch the sick and aged so seriously need?
For some reason (don't ask me why, because I don't know...) I read this and suddenly envisioned school cafeterias being totally operated by robots...
"With parts made in Japan, I am the modern man." -- from "Mr. Roboto" by Styx (songwriter Dennis DeYoung)
...And factories (already happening on assembly lines, especially at auto plants) and ... Tyson Foods.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto...For doing the jobs that nobody wants to..."
Eliminate people and you've eliminated such things as health insurance, bonuses and paychecks. And robots don't talk back.
"The problem's plain to see: too much technology...Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanize."
This week Honda's introducing the updated "Asimo," which, according to AP, can "walk, even jog, wave, avoid obstacles and carry on simple conversations."
Last week Toyota showed off "Robina," who -- oops, which (it's not a "who" if it's not human, right?) -- can sign its own name.
"I am 120 centimeters tall and how much I weigh is a secret," she said. Yep, she definitely sounds like a woman -- and is reported to have a feminine voice.
Robots with genders. Wonder what would happen if Asimo (which is apparently male) and Robina secretly got together?
But it's a serious issue. First, jobs imported and workers imported. Next, workers everywhere replaced by robots. Then, what?
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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