The robotic scene is best known for making dramatic predictions about the future, and sinister robots are once again in the spotlight now that artificial intelligence has become a marketing tool for all sorts of different brands.
Pessimists predict that robots will jeopardise jobs across the globe, and not only in industrial production. They claim robot journalists, robot doctors and robot lawyers will replace human experts, which can lead to a mass poverty and political instability.
Optimists claim a new paradise where all the tedious problems of human relationships can be overcome by having a perfect life with easily replaceable robot partners, which will fulfil our basic needs as well as our deepest longings. And "work" will become an ancient concept.
These pessimists can relax, and the optimists need to cool their boots. As experts in the field of robotics believe that robots will be much more visible in the future, but, at least over the next two decades, they will be clearly recognisable as machines.
However, there is still a long way to go before robots will be able to match a number of fundamental human skills. Here are five reasons why robots are not about to take over the world:
1. Hands like humans
Scientists are far from replicating the complexity of human hands. Hands of robots are used today in real applications and seem to still be clumsy. the more sophisticated hands developed in labs are not robust enough and lack the dexterity of human hands.
2. Tactile perception
There is no technical match for the magnificent human and animal skin that encompasses a variety of tactile sensors. This perception is required for complex manipulation. Also, the software that processes the input from the sensors in robots is nowhere near as sophisticated as the human brain when it comes to interpretation and reaction to the messages received from the tactile sensors.
3. Controlling manipulation
Even if we had artificial hands comparable to human hands and sophisticated artificial skin, we would still need to be able to design a way to control them in order to manipulate objects in a human-like way.
4. The interaction between humans and robots
The interaction amongst humans is built on well-functioning speech and object recognition systems, as well as other sensors such as smell and taste and tactile sensing.
Even though there has been significant progress in speech and object recognition, today’s systems can still only be used in controlled environments when a high degree of performance is required.
5. Humanity's decision
Not everything that is technically possible needs to be built. Humans could decide not to fully develop such robots, because of their potential harm to society. If, in many decades from now, the technical problems mentioned above are overcome so that complex human-like robots could be built, regulations could still prevent misuse.
Robots are a reality in today's industry and they will appear in public spaces in more complex shapes than robot vacuum cleaners. But in the next two decades, robots will not be human-like, even if they might look like humans. Instead, they will remain sophisticated machines.
You can stand down any fear of a robot uprising in the near future.