How do you feel when you think about robots? Maybe you find robots fascinating, and you can’t wait to see advancements in robotics in the near future. Maybe you recall science fiction stories that give a glimpse of a future where robots rule supreme. Or maybe you genuinely worry that a robot will soon take your job as a factory worker, or truck driver, or receptionist. We should all remind ourselves that robots, machines, and automated systems have the potential to do a lot of good, and we shouldn’t be afraid of change.
How do we view robots?
The words that people use to describe something matters. Word choice can reflect our feelings and influence the way that others feel about something. If you read through stories of robots in the news, you might get impression that machines mean trouble. Recurring words that appear in robot news stories include things like “uprising”, “overlords”, “takeover”, “swarming”, “rampage”, “ruling”, and “invasion”.
Of course, some journalists use these words to generate juicer headlines. “The Robots Are Coming!” is certainly a more exciting title than “Industrial Automation Capabilities Continue to Grow”. But the affect of this language does more than just draw in an audience.
Using this type of language could tap into actual feelings, it could be an attempt to reach a larger audience, but it can also cultivate a negative view of robots, robotics, and machines in general. The language many people use to describe robots is often packed with violence and fear. If you’re exposed to headlines about swarms of evil robot overlords, you could develop a negative view of robots. You could start to fear robots.
Should we be afraid of robots?
If a robot is 40-feet tall, shoots laser beams out of its eyes, and was built by an evil scientist bent on world domination, it’s OK to be afraid of it. The robots that robotics currently build and design to make our lives better, easier, and more efficient aren’t scary, though. For example, industrial automation hasn’t captured, enslaved, or ruled anybody. It’s made manufacturing jobs safer and easier, and it’s vastly improved the capabilities of manufacturers.
Most people who fear robots aren’t actually worried about robot overlords, however. They’re more concerned with how robots will ability to find and hold a job. Many workers perform jobs that don’t require special knowledge or skills. In other words, they easily automated jobs. While a more reasonable concern than evil robots, it still doesn’t seem entirely likely that automation and robots will lead to mass unemployment .
Robots have been around for a long time, and people still have jobs. Indramat opened its doors in 1958, and produced some of the greatest industrial motion control systems ever made. These systems didn’t replace the need for humans, but greatly improved the capabilities of the manufacturing industry. We shouldn’t be afraid of robots. We should look for ways to continue forward and capitalize on the benefits that robots bring.
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