The Fourth Industrial Revolution
What It Means and How to Respond
How to Make Almost Anything
The Digital Fabrication Revolution
As Objects Go Online
The Promise (and Pitfalls) of the Internet of Things
The Rise of Big Data
How It's Changing the Way We Think About the World
The Mobile-Finance Revolution
How Cell Phones Can Spur Development
Biology's Brave New World
The Promise and Perils of the Synbio Revolution
The Robots Are Coming
How Technological Breakthroughs Will Transform Everyday Life
New World Order
Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy
Will Humans Go the Way of Horses?
Labor in the Second Machine Age
Same as It Ever Was
Why the Techno-optimists Are Wrong
The Future of Cities
The Internet of Everything will Change How We Live
The Coming Robot Dystopia
All Too Inhuman
The Political Power of Social Media
Technology, the Public Sphere, and Political Change
From Innovation to Revolution
Do Social Media Make Protests Possible?
The Next Safety Net
Social Policy for a Digital Age
The Moral Code
How To Teach Robots Right and Wrong
Focus on Data Use, Not Data Collection
The Power of Market Creation
How Innovation Can Spur Development
The Innovative State
Governments Should Make Markets, Not Just Fix Them
Food and the Transformation of Africa
Getting Smallholders Connected
Robots have the potential to greatly improve the quality of our lives at home, at work, and at play. Customized robots working alongside people will create new jobs, improve the quality of existing jobs, and give people more time to focus on what they find interesting, important, and exciting. Commuting to work in driverless cars will allow people to read, reply to e-mails, watch videos, and even nap. After dropping off one passenger, a driverless car will pick up its next rider, coordinating with the other self-driving cars in a system designed to minimize traffic and wait times—and all the while driving more safely and efficiently than humans.
Yet the objective of robotics is not to replace humans by mechanizing and automating tasks; it is to find ways for machines to assist and collaborate with humans more effectively. Robots are better than humans at crunching numbers, lifting heavy objects, and, in certain contexts, moving with precision. Humans are better than robots at abstraction, generalization, and creative thinking, thanks to their ability to reason, draw from prior experience, and imagine. By working together, robots and humans can augment and complement each other’s skills.
Still, there are significant gaps between where robots are today and the promise of a future era of “pervasive robotics,” when robots will be integrated into the fabric of daily life, becoming as common as computers and smartphones are today, performing many specialized tasks, and often operating side by side with humans. Current research aims to improve the way robots are made, how they move themselves and manipulate objects, how they reason, how they perceive their environments, and how they cooperate with one another and with humans.
Creating a world of pervasive, customized robots is a major challenge, but its scope is not
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