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Humanoid robots are here

If you have been thinking about what’s going on with the world lately, know that we are approaching a time of transition. Everyone will be affected, despite the fact that many still believe it’s not their worry. 

A heavy-hitting startup called Figure, which just emerged from stealth mode is building a prototype of a humanoid robot that the company says will eventually be able to walk, climb stairs, open doors, use tools, and lift boxes. Therefore, it will look and act like a human.

Human-shaped robots with dexterous hands will be staffing warehouses and retail stores, tending to the elderly, and performing household chores within a decade or so. AI-driven humanoid robots look tantalizingly appealing. Companies such as Amazon are reportedly worried about running out of warehouse workers, whose jobs are physically and mentally demanding with high attrition.

Okay, you may think that this is cool and it can help you live a better life – no more household duties, some will even start to hang out with robots to kill their own loneliness. But how will that affect our mental health? Social media and VR are not enough for people – we have already become disconnected from one another.

They’ve moved into a 30,000-square-foot facility in Sunnyvale, California, where they plan to set up a mock warehouse to test their prototype. “We just got done in December with our full-scale humanoid,” Adcock tells Axios. “We’ll be walking that in the next 30 days.” Where it stands:

The prototype — Figure 01 — stands about 5’6″ and weighs 130 pounds. It’ll be fully electric, run for five hours on a charge, and is intended for warehouse use. Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robot is likely to be Figure’s chief competition — Elon Musk has described similar ambitions to Adcock’s for the “Tesla Bot.”

Another competitor: is Agility Robotics. At SXSW in Austin, Disney just unveiled a rollerblading, somersaulting bunny rabbit bot that’s meant to look like Judy Hopps from “Zootopia.”  And non-humanoid robots are starting to flex their muscles as security guards, window washers, food deliverers, and fry cooks. What frightens me is that those robots sometimes create mixed results.

The bottom line: It will take decades for humanoid robots to be able to replicate the sophisticated things our bodies can do, but visionaries are hard at work trying to make it happen. Goldman Sachs put out an initial research report on the humanoid robot sector in November, estimating that “a $6 billion market (or more) in people-sized-and-shaped robots is achievable in the next 8 to 12 years.”  Therefore, they are doing everything in their power to fasten up this entire project.

Yes, people should be worried about their jobs. If you don’t remember, even Stephen Hawking said that he is very worried about artificial intelligence which will be so powerful that it can take the entire control of mankind.

“They can get into commercial operation within a few years,”. they should be able to do most jobs — physical labor jobs that humans don’t want to do.” Yes, but: Humanoid robots are staggeringly challenging to build and engineer to perform reliably. There are various design challenges, from simple balance to replicating human movements. Can we believe nowadays people in power that will create these robots correctly? I am not sure that they still have our trust.

“We need to be able to push it and have it not fall down,” says Brett Adcock about Figure 01. From there, programming a robot to move boxes in a warehouse is a lot easier than engineering it to cook a meal. What they’re saying: “We face high risk and meager chances of success,”   

“This stuff just wasn’t possible 10 years ago — they think it’s possible now.” A decade ago, “you just didn’t have the energy or the power density to make this work.” Reality check: Engineering robots are expensive Figure: “they put in $10 plus million last year”. Like we don’t have other issues already – what about the poisoness air we breath? What about lack of clean water? Or maybe they just plan to replace us, “ordinary humans”, with robots who won’t need to use such natural resources?

Are you afraid of humanoid robots?

Or are you looking forward to them?

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