Robot maids and the human-tech future?

Today’s update comes inspired by a post over on Next Big Future, which put up a few videos of the latest in Korean domestic robotics.  As with most things of a robotic nature, it seems that Japan and Korea are the places to watch for any significant advancements – particularly when concerned with consumer products.

The most recent announcement coming out of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology continues this trend, with their latest demo of a pair of domestic robots that are capable of autonomous movement and activity within the household.

As you can see from the video here, the robots have been created to mimic the human form and perform day-to-day tasks such as putting clothes in the washing machine (and turning it on); making a cup of tea; or preparing you some breakfast in bed.

Although the technology is quite a few years away from any widespread commercial use, the fact that such developments are inevitable certainly lead us to ask some questions.  Many of us take such assisted living, in humanoid form, for granted – possibly because of a childhood growing up on the Jetsons.

Now, when we consider the use of such robots to help those who require assisted living this technology can certainly be seen as a worthwhile progression.  But for the rest of us, those who are able to make their own tea or throw their own clothes in the washing machine?

The whole concept does seem a little bit redundant, albeit a fascinating exercise to partake in from a theoretical and experimental perspective.  What also comes to mind for me personally, is to ask the question: why do such robots need to take on a humanoid form?

It seems to me that the best way to automate the path from clothes basket to washing machine is through a direct route from the clothes basket to the washing machine – one that can be built into the structure of the building itself and remain invisible.  When it comes to preparing cups of tea, we already have the capability to set up a machine to be remotely activated to do such a task.  Sure, we still have to actually walk over and collect the cup – but with advancements in technology there is no reason why dispensers couldn’t be placed in different rooms throughout the house for little cost (if you really needed to save those few steps to the kitchen).

Of course, this is just me missing the point – say the naysayers.  In some ways, I am overlooking the scientific exercise on purpose.  But then, can you seriously look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that robotic maids won’t catch on?  Whilst you’re doing so, can you also keep that sincerity whilst saying that such a thing won’t lead to many of us becoming even lazier and more prone to procrastination?  After-all, if we begin to automate everything – what is there left to do other than watch television, play games, or chat mindlessly with friends?

Sure, it could mean that we have more time to work on that next world-changing novel; create the next classic composition; or be putting in some extra time making our business flourish – but if we’re honest with ourselves, just how many of us are really going to be doing that?  Aren’t we just going to use the extra time to watch more episodes of Friends in its 50th year of syndication, or play through our 10,000th match of Modern Warfare 5?

What do you think?  Will you get a humanoid robot maid if given the chance?  And why do they have to be humanoid at all?


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