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Are the robots really coming?

At Intelligent Vending we are always really excited at the prospect of new technology. Having designed our own innovative control platform we have a great respect for the time and imagination and precision it takes to produce something truly cutting edge. People in the Western world, on the whole, have a remarkable fascination with technology, the latest phones are always sold out within the first 24 hours, the latest tablets and drones are always on top of Santa’s wish list and the advances in virtual reality and video consoles always leave us mind blown and wanting more. As much as we love our gadgets and crave the leaps, year on year, that technology makes there is also a slight unrest when it comes to views on technology. Dealing with a lot of technical enquiries through our Intelligent Vending switchboard, people are genuinely blown away with the functionalities that they can potentially harness with our SiriuS™ and Juno™ end to end solutions, but talking to people on a more day to day level, as much as they like technology to play with, there are slight misgivings that the more advanced we become, the more likely we are to become redundant as a race. It is the time old concern (film, literature and media fuelled!) that “The robots are coming” . We already use robots and machines in place of people for a large number of fields; the service sector, the entertainment sector, the industrial and auto-mobile sectors, these are all programmable and fully automated. From 2018- 2019, the robotics industry grew as a whole and it has been reported by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) that the global robotics market rose to US$16.5 billion [1] in that time.

So how does a country like Japan, a pioneer in the technological world feel in regards to the slight nervousness we seem to possess in the West? In Japan, automation isn’t regarded as a threat to peoples jobs but more about the countries survival economically.  In 2014 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled reforms with hopes that the robot market would reach $21 billion by 2020 [2] and looking at the stats published by the IFR, that seems well on track.  Reading a recent article by CNBC [3], their reporters explored different areas of the service industry in Japan and watched the interaction between the robot world and the human one. It seems that in Tokyo, the public enjoyed the novelty that the robots provided, but in regards to their suitability to assist with their practical needs this didn’t seem particularly harnessed. Which raises the question, are they actually a source of entertainment? Could this be a more accurate interpretation of their function? Are we merely fearful of fear itself? Reporters from CNBC could witness robots being utilised whilst consumers were queuing, to pass the time while they waited to engage with a person.

The Japanese, on the whole, are renowned for being truly fascinated by technology and love the gimmicks and interaction that it provides. For me, this gave me a little sense of reflection and comfort. In the West, creating life inevitably leads to destruction of the creator (Frankenstein, The Terminator, The book of Exodus) it is suggested that human vanity is constantly met by rebellion by its creation [4]. There are many philosophies, predictions and conspiracy theories concerning the fate of our world, in films, literature and media and whether, with our thirst for and advancement in technology, we are actually pushing ourselves into economic and social extinction in an ‘End of Days’ scenario.

I never look upon technology as anything other than exciting and pioneering and I suppose that is also how the designers and manufacturers also view their robotic creations. Do I think “The robots are coming”? Yes, absolutely, in fact I think they are already here, but does that mean I think they are taking over? Hmmm… no…. not just yet, anyway.

 

Footnotes

[1] https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases/news/presidents-report-03-2019

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/09/heres-why-japan-is-obsessed-with-robots.html

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/09/heres-why-japan-is-obsessed-with-robots.html

[4] https://s/421187/why-japanese-love-robots-and-americans-fear-them

 

References

1. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/09/heres-why-japan-is-obsessed-with-robots.htm

2. https://ifr-press-releases/news/presidents-report-03-2019

3. https:///23-reasons-why-japan-is-already-living-in-the-future

4. https://2017/11/16/asia/cea-tec-on-japan/index.html

5. https://s/421187/why-japanese-love-robots-and-americans-fear-them

 

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