Slash
In The Future, Your Best Friends Could Be Robots

Improved technology is pushing robots into almost every aspect of our society.

PSFK Labs
PSFK Labs on November 3, 2013. @psfk

It’s the stuff of pure science fiction, a distant future where a mechanized workforce cleans our homes, cooks our meals and even takes care of the kids. Turns out this fantasy might not be as farfetched as we think, thanks to vast improvements in artificial intelligence, sensors and robotics technology.

But as this evolution continues and these automated servants become more sophisticated, could they eventually push into white-collar fields such as journalism, law, and medicine? Or even innately ‘human’ areas such as the arts? A majority of Gen Xers and Ys seem to think so. According to The Curve Report, 27% of people agree and 43% somewhat agree that robots have the potential to be smarter than humans. How do we go about planning for this prospective future, and what will the workforce look like as more and more jobs are automated?

2

Source The Curve Report

In collaboration with the minds behind The Curve Report from NBCUniversal, PSFK has been investigating the rise of intelligent machinery and what role it should play in our everyday lives.

The data in The Curve Report says that 55% of Gen Xers and Ys agree that they could eventually feel empathetic towards a robot colleague. This reveals that not only are we willing to accept robots as more than machines to do our bidding, but we will begin to treat them as ‘human’. Furthermore, society is grappling with the rules and regulations that should be placed on technologies that we’ve never encountered before, as companies are rushing to implement new advances.

3

There are already many interesting examples of brands beginning to utilize robots as part of their active workforce. For example, in the city of Dongguang, which is in the southern province of Guangdong, China, aerial drones are being utilized as mail carriers to deliver packages. The aerial robots are octocopters—eight-rotor helicopter-type machines—and sport the logo of Shenzhen-based delivery services company SF Express. The company has disclosed to the media that it is conducting trials of their drone delivery service, which was developed for delivering packages over long distances and to remote areas. Each drone has a built-in navigation system and can be monitored by company staff to make sure it doesn’t stray from its target destination. While this is still an early prototype, it shows a way in which robots could be used to improve upon and even completely replace their human counterparts.

4

Another example of intelligent machinery taking on new roles is Monsieur, an artificially intelligent robotic bartender. This gadget has thousands of pre-made recipes that are ready to be dispensed at the touch of a button. Users can browse through the cocktails on offer via the touchscreen panel and there’s even a ‘surprise me’ feature for those having a tough time deciding. Monsieur is able to pick up on a person’s habits and automate drink preferences accordingly. For example, Monsieur can monitor when you’ve been at work for a long time and offer a double instead of a single, or it can pour you a drink when your favorite sports team wins a game. Not only does the device make the drinks, but it can learn to predict human desires, as any good bartender should.

5

Robot assistants are also being developed to emulate the more ‘personal’ aspects of humanity. For example, Giles is a robot that was designed to ‘hand write’ notes and thank you cards to send through the mail. Developed by BOND, an app-based gifting service, their aim is to bring proper gift-giving etiquette back into the mainstream. Doubling as a carefully curated boutique, the app lets users choose a gift, type out a note, and enter a recipient’s address for delivery. The carefully composed note is then written by Giles, which gives the gift a personalized, even ‘human’ touch.

6

Source The Curve Report

The Curve Report found that advocates argue robotics could create more than 3 million new jobs globally by 2020, bring manufacturing back stateside, and generate new positions in fields we have yet to fathom. However, does this mean that we will fully trust our robot workers? Not entirely: 87% of Gen Xers and Ys believe that robots should always be supervised by humans. Whatever the future may hold, whether it is a personalized mechanic assistant for shoppers, personal chefs or even artists, brands will continue to develop creative ways to incorporate intelligent robotic workers into people’s everyday lives.

For a closer look at how brands are approaching this issue, be sure to head over to The Curve Report to check out Rage Against The Machine?, which examines humans’ ever-evolving relationship with technology.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 4.41.04 PM

The Curve Report from NBCUniversal

Rage Against The Machine?

Images via The Curve Report, Ayesha Khanna, SF Express, Monsieur, BOND

Thinking...