- Related Stories
Preparing for DARPA's urban road challengeJanuary 26, 2007
My life with ScoobaOctober 31, 2006
Divining AI, and the future of consumer roboticsJuly 20, 2006
Getting machines to think like usJuly 3, 2006
The leader of the robot packJuly 7, 2005
Why robots are scary--and coolApril 12, 2005
(continued from previous page)
I think we will see, in that same sort of sense, people changing their expectations of the world from robotics. After one time spending six weeks in Japan, I came back here and almost walked through the first glass door I came to, because I'd just gotten so used to them opening.
Any truth behind the rumor that you're a robot?
Brooks: I am a robot. So are you.
And that's my next question. There's another evolution taking place, the one where humans are slowly taking on machine parts, as robots take on humanistic qualities. How do you see this changing us as a society?
Brooks: You know, in my view we are machines, bio-molecules that interact according to physical laws. If you take a freshman course in biology here at MIT, and a lot of it's about molecular biology now, it's not like (MIT biology professor) Eric Lander says, "You know this molecule comes down toward this piece of the DNA and then the soul intervenes and aligns the molecules." It's about the mechanics and our science implicitly, not always explicitly but implicitly, believes that that's how things work. We are, therefore, robots made up of little molecular robots.
But then there is the other thing....Will it be the
Brooks: And you guys will pay.
Or maybe we'll just get robots to take care of you.
Brooks: Well, that's right, yeah. I think it's really part of the solution.
So, tell me something about that. I know there's this idea that because we're going to have this large volume of elderly people we're going to need helper robots.
Brooks: So, unlike in Japan--I'm told they're having companions--I don't think that flies well in North America or Europe. But I think the 20- to 60-year-olds...you'll have to be somehow much more productive than in the past. Robots can help. I've visited in Pittsburgh a hospital that has robots just go from place to place driving carts...There's a productivity increase, and it's not about turning to a robot nurse. It's about doing the stuff that the nurses shouldn't have to do.
What's the next big market for robots? Military? Entertainment? Health care?
Brooks: Clearly military is one--the sorts of jobs that can't be outsourced. You either have to import labor, which everyone is now against all of a sudden after relying on it for so many years now.
Mining. Mining's a shitty job. Especially in China it's so horrendous, but even in North America.
Meat packing plants. You hear all these stories about repetitive injury syndromes from people cutting chicken. You could have a robot that, let's say, cuts chicken legs at 1,000 times an hour. Somehow it's got to be done, and people don't want these jobs. They're shitty jobs. So, it's not going to take any jobs away from people who want them.
Brain surgery. These surgeons are now doing surgeries they wouldn't have contemplated before because they have much better tools of knowing where everything is and being able to know what's happening.
It's like, you know, computers didn't replace office workers or accountants. They have changed the nature of the work they did, increased their productivity, which led to the...
The four-day workweek? Never happened.
Brooks: (laughs) No, but it did lead to productivity increasing.
OK. Is there anything else you want to share with people concerning what you do or what you think about?
Brooks: You know, while my reality meter says that it's much more a symbiosis, working together and the robots doing the easy cases of the easy tasks, etc., my intellectual side still wants to go about building Commander Data, a fully autonomous robot that we can all love and discuss things with.
4 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment