Relationship Building And Machine World

If the Robot That Takes Over Your Job Has A Name,  Will That Make A Difference?

I can’t speak for those of our species who hail from Venus, however, it seems to me, this romance we have with machines has been going on a long time now, so having a pet name for a robot seems pretty normal to me. I mean, my John Deere riding mower is known as ‘Frank’. My dad had an old blue pickup with over 200K miles on it that was ‘Blue Betsy’. When it’s 20 degrees outside, and you have maybe enough juice to crank Betsy one more time – What do you do? You talk with her. You encourage her… “you can do it baby.. come on now.”

I suppose it should come as no surprise to me then, that Slate.Com reports that “More Than 80 Percent of Roomba Owners Name Their Roomba”. What can I say! I’m surprised. Eighty percent is a big number. We have the capacity to love our machines. I get that. They are so much a part of our lives. It’s good to know this extends to our robots. This seems like a good thing as we approach Machine World. However, the implications of the Machine World that’s coming, go way beyond naming our robots. So, when iRobot CEO Colin Angle says there’s not going to be a “robot takeover”, do you believe him? Are you ready to name your roomba and go quietly into the future?

“CB: As robots get more skilled, at what point should people start to be scared of them?
CA: A robot takeover is not going to happen. Robots are going to help us with various aspects of our lives, but what will be weirder is the integration of robot technology into ourselves. Today if you lose your hearing, you can get an implant that restores it. The strange part will be when you can get even better hearing. Augmenting our bodies with technology will have far-ranging ramifications and is going to happen far sooner than humanoid robots coming in to take my job—or to take over.”

From “My Roomba’s Name Is Roswell”

The real news in this article is not that you don’t have to worry about a robot takeover. The real news here is that someone actually asked a CEO the question. Yes, It’s good to know that the better half of our species – those hailing from Venus are with us in this relationship we have with our machines as Machine World approaches.  We can assume a good proportion of that 80 percent number hail from Venus. Yes, we are dependent upon our technology. We rely upon our smart machines, and although we may be abrupt with them, or take them for granted from time to time. Our survival on this rock depends upon this relationship we have with our technology and our machines. How are we going to work out this journey to Machine World?

Fear is involved here. I don’t think the notion of a “robot takeover” captures what this fear is all about. What we fear is a radical imbalance, or departure from our current way of life, and initially that comes down to jobs and technological unemployment.

  • Does Technological Unemployment threaten our economy going forward?
  • Why should we not fear the loss of 50% of the jobs people now have to the advance of automation and robotics?
  • How can we survive the transition to Machine World?
  • What role should our government play?


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Randy’s Scoopit! topic: Technological Unemployment


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