September 01, 2015
Are We Approaching A Robotic Cambrian Explosion?

Check out this piece in IEEE Spectrum: Is a Cambrian Explosion Coming for Robotics?

Many of the base hardware technologies on which robots depend—particularly computing, data storage, and communications—have been improving at exponential growth rates. Two newly blossoming technologies—“Cloud Robotics” and “Deep Learning”—could leverage these base technologies in a virtuous cycle of explosive growth. In Cloud Robotics—a term coined by James Kuffner (2010)—every robot learns from the experiences of all robots, which leads to rapid growth of robot competence, particularly as the number of robots grows.

Not sure whether to be frightened or thrilled. I feel both.

The kinds of human activities which will get automated in the next 10 years: driving, cooking, crop harvesting, construction. As computers become more powerful and algorithms more capable of making a machine learn the current capabilities will seem crude 10 years from now. Robot development will become much easier.

Will the rate of advance of robotic tech greatly accelerate? Seems plausible. How will this affect you? Depends heavily on whether you will retain value in the labor market. Menial laborers are certainly going to be out of luck.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 September 01 09:45 PM 

bob sykes said at September 2, 2015 4:39 AM:

I was sitting in a line of stopped cars yesterday watching a paving operation and waiting for a flagman to let us through the one open lane. This was a highly mechanized operation with a milling machine removing old pavement, a paver putting down new and a roller to compact it.

However, there were two flagmen and several what I would call finishers using brooms and shovels to cleanup the mess left by the machines. Almost as many men as those operating the machines. (Yes, men, no women) And these were menial jobs, not skilled jobs.

I think the point is that the skilled jobs are at risk, not the menial jobs. Computer aided design (CAD) eliminated skilled drafstmen and junior engineers. Computer aided manufacturing (CAM) eliminated skilled machinists; semi-skilled people still do odd jobs on assembly lines. Data base search engines eliminate junior lawyers. Etc Etc.

I like this site and all the interesting stuff you find. But I am a pessimist about the future of our tecnnology-based society. The hordes invading Europe and the US and the savages infesting our cities will not be able to sustain anything like a high-tech society. If they could, Africa and Latin America would look like pre-invasion Europe and the US.

Abelard Lindsey said at September 2, 2015 9:52 AM:

The Omron rep visited me yesterday at my office (we may be using Omron's NJ PLC in several future projects). During his visit he showed me several videos of "delta" robots with machine vision, all made by Omron, doing food handling and processing tasks. He also showed me a video of an Omron delta robot playing ping-pong with several human players.

I am looking forward to using delta robots and machine vision in future projects!

Lono said at September 2, 2015 12:10 PM:

Absolutely we are on the cusp of such an explosion - although it will be interesting to see if it continues on until the death of the universe (or later).

All I can say is - you fools!

If the biological intelligence explosion does not proceed the artificial one then we have an extremely low probability for a positive outcome for mankind.

Randall Parker said at September 2, 2015 8:10 PM:


So you see it up close and personal. Most people do not understand how much companies are investing in robotics development and how quickly the progress is happening. Robotic cooking by 2025 looks like it is fully in the cards. Robotic driving too. Robotic retail shelf restocking. Robotic trash collection, why not?


Biotech is moving really slowly compared to computer and robotic tech. I rarely write bio posts any more because I find the progress so slow. I look at robotics by comparison and expect a big technological revolution in the next 10 years driven by robotics.

I think we'll discover most of the IQ-related genetic variants in the next 10 years just because DNA sequencing costs have fallen so far and continue to fall. So we'll get the data. So then by 2025 embryo selection for smarter babies will be in vogue at least with the cognitive elite. But that takes decades to play out. So I think the AI/robotics revolution will happen first.

bob sykes,

The cognitive elites are sorting themselves apart from the rest. That will go much further as fewer lower skilled laborers are needed around the areas where the cognitive elites live and work. So the cognitive elites are going to become insulated and isolated from the rest.

Finishing workers for automated equipment: a transitional stage. Once the machines become smarter with the advance of Moore's Law that will change.

Lono said at September 8, 2015 12:27 PM:


I speak mostly of somewhat more modest cognitive enhancement than that provided by direct genetic uplifting.

It would, of course, require an intentional concentration of resources specifically towards achieving biological enhancement.

(including, but not limited to, cybernetic extensions)

Although I was being somewhat flippant before I truly believe mankind is making a very serious mistake - one that I am personally trying to pro-actively rectify. Mensa does now count at least one multi-Billionaire amongst its rank these days as you may well know.

gejala stroke said at August 29, 2016 8:43 PM:

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Meski yang dialami masih gejala stroke ringan tapi penanganannya harus secara tepat karena bisa berakibat fatal jika tidak diatasi dengan obat stroke yang ampuh. Sebelum kita membahas lebih lanjut mengenai pengobatan stroke, maka kita harus mempelajari dulu tentang apa itu penyakit stroke, penyebab penyakit stroke, gejala stroke,
serta bahaya apa yang bisa muncul? Setelah itu baru kita bisa memilih obat stroke yang tepat yang akan kita gunakan.

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