Technology at the speed of light…. but where will it take us?

The world of technology and robotics continue to astound me.  Before 2016 closes, there’ll be Apple’s I-phone 7. Maybe another one that dispenses medication or selects our evening entertainment is also in the making. These notions may not be so far off if we consider what’s happening in the tech world today.

Remember Disney’s Wall-e who rid the earth of garbage! Next, drones may soon be littering the skies delivering packages and other paraphernalia to our doorsteps.Wall e

Already techies are investigating unmanned vehicles aka driverless cars –images we saw in futuristic film some years ago.  … And, you may ask, just how is this new phenomenon going to be regulated so everyone feels safe on overcrowded highways and by-ways?

Recently we’ve been hearing about the Ladybird, a giant-sized solar-powered red-winged robot that can help farmers manage weed control, by targeting individual weeds and assist with insect management! Following closely behind is Shrimp another robot designed to collect agricultural data in the fields and so help farmers determine crop yield and vigor on their farms.

Ladybird robot

Ladybird

Pretty much we can think of any type of computerized gadget that can support and enhance human capabilities. But the big question is whether they will soon do us out of jobs. More concerning is what will the jobs of the future look like for younger graduates and is our education system surveying the landscape to determine what technological skills need to be taught to keep abreast of changing tides. The more we search the deeper our questions become: How far will robotics advance to assist human efforts and what are some of the ethical issues we need to address as we advance along the technology continuum.  In some fields, scientists are working on getting robots to perform like humans (consider the Henn-na Hotel which opened as a full scale ‘robot hotel’ in Japan!) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/japan/galleries/Henn-na-Hotel-inside-the-worlds-first-robot-hotel/

Other researchers have even gone further afield to consider suggesting emotional intelligence so they (robots) can think like humans.  There’s little doubt that robots can compute faster and sometimes more accurately than humans, but can we equip them with the powers of deduction and discernment or understand human emotions like love and compassion or is the jury still out on whether emotions can be mere computations?

Artificial intelligence warns world-renowned physicist,  Stephen Hawking, has many dangers.  Professor Salah Sukkarieh who is leading the robotic aircraft project at ACFR http://confluence.acfr.usyd.edu.au/display/AGPub/Welcome+to+Agriculture+at+ACFR

has determined that computers can fly and do flight control more accurately than pilots and adds: “but largely computers still can’t deal with risk and uncertainty fast enough, as compared as human pilots”

So where will it end …. I continue to delve deeper with skepticism yet with a sense of awe and wonder.

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