By the year 2030, the humanoid robots tasked with performing our domestic chores will have intelligence surpassing our own. Companies have already designed robots to vacuum our floors and mow our lawns with products such as the Roomba and Robomow robotic lawn mower. Soon these companies will be competing with fully automated, all-inclusive robots capable of the physical, as well as cognitive tasks necessary to maintain a household. At the same time, cars will be fully autonomous and considering 30,000 people in the U.S. die each year on our roads, it seems inevitable the laws will change to address these future needless deaths. Automobiles commanded by intelligent apes like ourselves will no longer be acceptable in the face of the large death and injury toll. As with home computers and smartphones, these innovations will change the way we live and shape future generations. How we incorporate these technologies will determine their benefits and liabilities.
The pre-cursor to a fully automated home used today is called a “hub,” as it controls all our wireless gadgets from a central location. The lighting, temperature, stereo, the window shades, the lawn sprinklers, video surveillance, and even the crock pot can be programmed and controlled remotely with smartphone connectivity. Companies such as Samsung, Logitech, Philips, Amazon and Google, all have versions of these hubs on the market. Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot, in addition to Google Home, have become popular choices for this technology. In the very near future, robots will have this connectivity built in, with the addition of being able to carry out manual tasks including cooking, laundry, lawn maintenance, and cleaning. In addition to these domestic innovations, companies are already preparing for the autonomous car revolution on the horizon. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says that by 2030, the entire Uber fleet will be driverless. Google has already developed a driverless car that it expects to be ready for the public within the next five years. Today, we already have cars that can control steering, acceleration, and braking, both at high speeds or navigating through city traffic. In August of 2016, Singapore became the first country in the world to debut driverless taxis. Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO, predicts by 2020, drivers will be able to go to sleep and wake up at their destination.
These smart products and autonomous automobiles of today represent a steady progression of technology designed to make life both easier and safer. They will shape our society as other innovations have with both positive and negative effects. There is no doubt our future will become more convenient and safe. Those able to translate safety and convenience into a happier life will flourish and continue to innovate. Just as with the internet, the user determines the benefits and liabilities of new technology. If the time spent once doing household chores is directed towards pursuing ones passions or spending more time with family thanks to technology, then the promise of a better future will be realized.