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When will we have the first 'clever' Robot? And if it is imminent (< 25 years), why are we not planning for change greater than any before?

IBM and others are getting close to creating robot brains with similar complexities to small mammals, such as a cat, and are on target for delivery by 2017. This bodes well for clever, learning, robots within 25 years.
see http://www.artificialbrains.com/darpa-synapse-program

We don't need sentient robots or machines to automate many industrial or administrative tasks. These new types of robotic brains will be able to learn and improve. This will mean that these new systems will be able to handle complex tasks that cannot be programmed.

Further enhancement will be derived by local robots co-ordinating tasks using data centre knowledge for more complex applications and feedback for assessment that flag up any issues that require intervention. This ability to network knowledge, processing and feedback via the cloud will happen at ever increasing speeds.

The resulting inescapable economic pressure will create a massive new robotic and automation industry. Within a short time, robots and machines will be taking over many of the simpler and more complex tasks within industry, within administration and in the home. As the robotic industry will also use automation to manufacture more of the same, the costs will tumble and there will be a relentless surge forward towards automation.

The replacement of many people world-wide in a relatively short timescale (5 to 10 years period) will create massive economic and political pressures. Businesses will either automate or go bust. Businesses will shed labour like nothing ever before.

Governments world-wide will be faced with growing concerns with massive unemployment and dismay for any future improvement. Soon, the world’s largest economic nations will start to see a breakdown in their communities. What will they do?
Should we start planning now for this seemingly inevitable scenario?



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  • Nov 17 2012: First, I agree that your scenario will probably become true.

    One major problem with planning for it is the timing. The invention of artificially intelligent machines has been predicted as "just a few years away now" for at least forty years. Like the boy who cried wolf, many people no longer listen.

    Another problem is that we do not have a planned economy. The CEO's who agree with your vision are concentrating their efforts on the bottom line of the next quarterly report.
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      Nov 18 2012: Hi Barry,

      Yes, always the timing - I tell my kids they are going to live through the most exciting period in human history. Even without clever robots, we shall see massive change - China, India, the rest of Asia, the world is turning on its axis of power... throw in new technologies like on the fly translation apps and humans hooked up to electronic systems and data feeds... the world will be so different in 50 years.

      But my premise should still hold, even if it is not for a 100 years or more... then we shall face the same political and economic issues. Why not start planning for them now just in case?


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