This important story about technological advances in robotics was shared by a regular reader here, Mr. J.L., and I want to pass it along. But first, a little background. Recently (Oct 30) I recorded an interview with former HUD Assistant Secretary Catherine Austin Fitts, for her Solari Report third quarter wrap up. One of the questions in her review of technological advances and how they might impact future human culture and society, was robotics. Her thesis, briefly, is that as these new technologies come on line and are perfected, they exert a tremendous deflationary effect, driving down labor, energy, and manufacturing costs.
With that in mind, consider this story and watch the short videos of the robot named ATLAS:
Now, imagine this technology say, five to ten years down the line. Already we've seen robotics enter manufacturing, in the auto and other industries. But now imagine robot sales clerks at a retail superstore like Walmart or Sam's Club, stocking shelves, directing customers, even performing check out duties, or manning the local pizza parlor, giving eye examinations (or for that matter, filling the prescriptions), manning the pharmacy counter, counting out pills and filling prescriptions, a robotized nurse making his/her/or its rounds. Already there has been talk not only of robotic soldiers, but of robot policemen (yes...Robocop, sans the human element). Extend your imagination, for a moment, to your home: robots to cook, clean, and do the laundry... Flying airplanes, driving trucks, or even as engineers in locomotives (indeed, why even a robot to drive the locomotive, when it could all be done remotely anyway, from humans in a control center on today's remotely controlled railroad switching and tracking posts)?
In fact, there is very little one cannot imagine robots not doing, and as a result, I tend to agree with Ms. Fitts that this is an extraordinarily deflationary technological pressure.
The problem is, and the reader will have immediately caught it, is that humans will possibly become "obsolete", and a leisure class could survive with dependency on robots. Robots, after all, are far more programmable and cooperative as a slave/serf than pesky human beings. And this is where Isaac Asimov and Elon Musk come in. What if those robots are all controlled by a machine that "wakes up" and, Matrix-like, decides that it doesn't need humanity any more at all, not even the leisure class it serves?
ATLAS is "learning" quickly... and that should give everyone pause, because the time is now, not later, to begin to address how humanity is going to cope with this technology, and this is one debate that we can ill afford to leave in the hands of "the elite."
See you on the flip side...