Thursday, January 24, 2013


I confess even I'm pretty shocked by InMoov

A few weeks ago someone asked me to answer a Quora question on the possibility of humanoid robots. (I'll quote the answer now Quora requires logins to see what I wrote)

Caring robots have to become cheaper than people before they'll take off.

There are projected to be between 7 and 10 billion people in the near future. And they're pretty cheap, all things considered. Also, most people like to be cared for by other people.

So I'd expect technology to *augment* rather than replace carers in the near future.

What will certainly happen first is intensive monitoring technologies : sensors which are worn by, or embedded in the rooms and furniture of, people who need support. It will be easy for one nurse to monitor dozens of patients in a hospital or at their own homes in a district and to talk to them whenever they request.

Robotics will continue to develop within medical instruments. Most medical operations will be conducted by tiny robots, largely under the direct control of a surgeon, but with areas of increasing autonomy. Expect to see robot anaesthetists, machines which can painlessly take blood samples from an exposed arm, machines which can sew-up wounds. 
Not to mention extensive 3D printing of organs and to repair wounds. All these machines will be fronted by a caring and responsible human being. 
Later, expect to see more machines that allow self-monitoring and even self-treatment turning up in the home. 
Humanoid nurse-substitutes are likely to be fairly late arriving, if at all.

That answer is, of course, predicated on humanoid robots being hard to do and expensive. However, what if the whole future manufacturing thing is making reasonable homebrew humanoids pretty cheap?

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