Robots that can snatch jobs from us

Emotional Robots

Emotional robots are robots who can read human facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language to determine the emotional state of the person addressing them. The robot can then simulate an appropriate emotional response using its own tone, facial expressions, and actions. For example, if a person is upset the robot can be soothing. They are being developed in research labs, and have been deployed in a limited way in some hospitals in the US and Japan. Two of the more famous emotional robots are Kismet, developed by roboticist Cynthia Breazeal at MIT, whose facial expressions might be crude but are nevertheless very effective; and the Actroid series of robots developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University in Japan.

Emotional robots are ideally suited for a number of working-class or retail jobs. They will work in hospitals and homes as caretakers, eliminating those jobs for humans. Emotional robots will also take over receptionist jobs and retail work in many stores. They are incapable of becoming angry or upset when customers yell at them or make strange demands. If a customer is upset, the emotional robot will always act sorry and mean it.

Surgeon Robots

Surgeon robots are just what they sound like – a pair of robotic arms equipped with a camera that can conduct surgeries with precision and speed that no human could ever muster. They have already been used successfully in several surgeries. Sometimes the robot arms are controlled by a human, but several successful surgeries have been performed by robots operating autonomously.

Surgeons might be eliminated, or will be turned into technicians rather than exalted mega-doctors. This goes to prove that robots don’t just threaten the jobs of regular working people – they will also eliminate professional middle-class jobs too. Or they will turn formerly high-paid, highly-trained surgeons into skilled labor like forklift operators. The advantage with them is the fact that the emotional aspect that a doctor might have while operating someone, will be eliminated.

Brain Computer Interfaces

Brain computer interfaces (BCIs) are any piece of technology that allows your brain to control a computer directly. One of the most famous examples of this technology is BrainGate, a device that plugs directly into your brain and carries electrical signals from it to a computer. People who use BrainGate are able to control a computer cursor, which has allowed people who are completely paralyzed to communicate again by moving a cursor over a virtual keyboard and typing out words. Future kinds of BCIs will operate wirelessly. One example of wireless BCI was an experiment done on a rat who could be remote-controlled from a distance when operators sent electrical signals to the parts of his brain responsible for directing his body left or right. Often called the “robo-rat,” (see video below) this creature demonstrated that BCI works both ways, wirelessly: You can send signals from your brain to a computer, and send signals to somebody’s brain too. Can someone see the Matrix ??

Brain implants could change the jobs of machine operators. Operating heavy machinery might move from being a physical job to being a mental one. You could use your brain to control a robot who is digging up a fuel tank, or laying cement. Other jobs that might be profoundly changed are entertainment-industry related. Cameras and sound systems could be brain-controlled, possibly allowing for new kinds of camera work that will be more crazily vivid than anything we’ve seen before. Either way, people trained on the manual systems for industrial machines and cameras will have to learn to use BCI or get downsized.

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