Robotland Bookstore

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Robot Party Will Win The Next Election

Futurist Wolfgang Heller and this robot team

He has analyzed the working life of Swedish men or women and came to the conclusion that if someone lives 80 years and works 40 years full time, he or she has worked about 70.000 hours, which is about 10 percent of the total of 700.800 lifetime hours. Most people work less because of illness, child care, studies, holydays, unemployment etc. In Europe the average lifetime worker will use 55.000 hours of his life for paid and taxed work. In the long run we move to zero.

Work place studies show that office workers only use 4 hours for productive work the rest is socializing and waste. Not worried yet? It will get worse when large groups of craftsman, teachers, nurses and workers will retire in the next 5-10 years. In 2004 there lived 670 000 men and 884 000 women older than 64 years in Sweden. In 2010 there will be about 770 000 men and 950 000 women in this age group.

Who will do their jobs in industry, farms, school, hospitals etc? Who will take care for them? The Swedish government hopes some pensioners will work longer and that immigrants will take over most vacancies. But Wolfgang Heller is doubtful if this will work in the long run. Insourcing qualified workforce from Africa or Asia is no good solution because it increases misery in this parts of the world.

When people in developed countries live 80, 90, 100 years but only work 5-10 percent of their lifetime a radical solution is needed to finance the 90-95 percent high standard living. An alternative is to increase work time and to decrease standard of living. But "More Work for Less Money" is not a message people will support in an election. Instead they will continue to vote for "More Money, Less Work" and that is what the Robot Party is promising. Robots can take over boring, heavy and dangerous jobs first. They can do the jobs for one, two, ten people, as they already do in manufacturing. Later they will serve at home, in hospitals and care centers. They can work underground, in deep sea, in the air and in space. They will assist, train, entertain and support mankind until it´s time to take over more challenging, creative and funny jobs such as research, arts and soccer playing. In 2050 they will play against the human world soccer champion team and the goal is to win. Until that day they may daydream when painting Wolfgang Heller´s wall.

"When I´m grown up, I will be a soccer champion."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nanny Robot

Newsletter "Japan Today" published a picture with children looking at a “babysitter” robot, developed by Tmsuk, at an Aeon shopping mall in Fukuoka. The newsletter reports that the robot can watch kids while parents go shopping. Children wear special badges with codes which the robot can read. The robot can then identify the children by their names and ages and chat with them using a limited vocabulary.

Some webreaders comment the news and are worried about "the risk of dehumanization", childrens curiousity to break the robot i pieces, what will happen in case of fire, also the partents judgement to use robots as guardians is critized. One reader writes: "Can the robot comfort a child who misses mummy? Can the robot ensure the safety of the children while they are playing? Can the robot stop a child from running out of the play area? Can the robot sense an emergency? Put band-aids on fingers?"

Public robot experiments with children engage people and often result in a list of pro and cons of robot use in society. Critics often define threats and what is missing to make a product och service more acceptable. For the curious inventor they are an important source to learn more about the consumers demands to get the innovation right. What the news doesn´t tell is what the children think about the new interactive nanny robot. Equiped with a tv-screen showing entertaining robot videos may "paralize" the kids for hours. This works fine in malls all over the world. Go on shopping, partents!