The Guardian has an interesting article on a robot designed to pick raspberries – and potentially also other crops as well. This robot is able to about 25,000 berries a day, whereas a human picker can only do 15,000. It took about 700,000 Pound to develop this machine and it is expected it will come into production next year.
At Geek.com there is an interesting article about a robot developed by Japanese scientists that could replace construction workers. As pointed out in the article the main motivation behind this HRP-5P is to deal with the country’s aging and declining population.
There are several reasons why this kind of robots are of great importance for space settlements. Building space habitats, mining of resources and so on, will require a lot of work. Through the use of robots more labor will be available and this will allow for much faster space development – especially if such robots can be assembled in space, which will further reduce launch costs.
Also, according to another article on Geek.com, a long-term exposure to cosmic radiation could lead to digestive problems. Robots do not suffer from radiation the same way as humans do, hence they could start building free space habitats while science works to devise methods to protect humans against cosmic rays.
Around the world scientists are developing robots for agriculture.
This Australian robot is suitable for open field farming:
In regard with agriculture space settlements will have to deal with two issues. First of all, an independent food supply is essential for the success of any civilization. Secondly, during the early stages of the humanization of space there a shortage of labor will be quite likely. Since we cannot dispense with agriculture, at least not in the long run – as the alternative would be very expensive – space settlers will need to embrace agricultural robots full heartedly. Continue reading Agricultural robots
Researcher in Singapore have succeeded in building a robot, which are able to assemble an IKEA chair. Though the robots are still a bit slower than a human being, this kind of technology is interesting.
As many countries are facing an aging population, automation will be necessary to avoid a labor shortage. Also space settlements will benefit from this technology, as it will allow them to achieve economic independence by reducing the need to import manufactured goods.
Science fiction authors have explored the idea that one day robots will replace human labor. The general picture is that the employment rate will be low as only a few jobs remain that cannot be filled by robots. Continue reading The social economic problem of the future
Earlier we discussed the problems associated with prostitution (e.g. human traffic among others) on this site. We also proposed a system to solve some of these problems. In this post another “solution”: robot prostitutes.
In his book Love & Sex With Robots David Levy explores “the evolution of human-robot relationships”, more precisely romantic human-robot relationships. With having to summarize Levy’s book, he presents an argument why it is inevitable that people will have sex with robots, and that some people will even go so far as that they will “marry” their sex robot.
Not surprisingly Levy went on to discuss why people (men and women) visit prostitutes. He notes the similarity between paying a prostitute and either purchasing or renting [by the hour or the day] a sex robot.
For robot prostitution no significant technological breakthroughs are required, after all there are currently highly realistic sex dolls. Further animatronics is also well-developed, as is seen in these videos:
The main benefit of sex robots is that they cannot suffer, and hence they can be programmed to “like” being a prostitute. Therefore exploitation of [robot] sex workers will not be an issue. Maybe it will be an idea to ban human prostitution all together, and keep only robot prostitution legal.
In the Robot series novels by Isaac Asimov, humanity is divided into two groups: Spacers who have colonized space, and those who have remained on Earth. The main difference between these two groups is the use of robots. In Asimov’s universe, Earth has banned the use of robots, whilst Spacer use robots for everything.
Though Asimov gives a weak explanation for this state of affairs in his novels, his vision is quite plausible. It’s my hypothesis that future Space Settlements will more likely to become dependent upon robots, than terrestrial societies.
Here on Earth the overall majority of people depends upon jobs to survive. Hence becoming unemployed is one of the modern man’s greatest fears. Robots and automation are a potential threat to the jobs of large numbers of people, hence many people might oppose further automation, regardless of this threat is real or imaginary. For this reason trade unions might lobby governments to restrict the use of robots, and related social-democratic parties might introduce such policies in order to appeal to a large portion of the electorate.
In Space Settlements, however, labour will be scarce and hence expensive. This would create a great incentive to invest in robots and automation in general. And because the small number of people in Space Settlements, massive opposition towards robots will be absent. Consequently Space colonists are more likely to stimulate robots, whereas terrestrial governments might be tempted to restrict robots for electoral gain.
For your amusement, here a few YouTube videos of quite spectacular advancements in robotics: