After reading comments and reviews after the actual show, I
came across an article by Andrew
Rosenblum in the January issue of
Wired Magazine, “Designs Within
Robotic Reach: The Droid-Optimized
Home.” Rosenblum made some very
good points about the best of today’s
robots and how they still have trouble
moving around within our homes and
manipulating objects designed by
humans to be used by humans.
These would include silverware,
cups, plates, kitchen and cooking
items, books and magazines, and
other things laying around our homes
that we handle and use every day.
I got the feeling the article was
saying that we’re too selfish to design
things like dinnerware, mugs, and
bowls so they can be more easily
handled by our mechanical friends
with parallel flat-jaw grippers.
Should we begin to convert the
products we design for humans to
also be easily used by robots? Should
we spend trillions of dollars (or
whatever currency) to make the
world’s millions of homes and things
like furniture more bot-friendly?
As humans, we can’t change our
bipedal stance to wheels, nor can we
change our magnificent opposing-thumb hand structure to a rubber-lined claw. Humans will stay in the
form that we have been for thousands
Why make the things we use daily
more awkward for ourselves? By the
time we modify our homes to suit our
mechanical brethren, their arms and
hands will have identical capabilities to
our own. How about designs that
meet both entities right in the middle?
I guess I’m a bit self-centered as I
want to see robots that fit
comfortably into my environment.
Most of Wired’s readers seem to
be of the ‘younger’ generation who
are college-educated and making six
figures in the technical work place.
Most already have a robot vacuum
cleaner and a smart home
environment with an Alexa or Google
Home device to greet them on
returning home. They keep abreast of
all that is technical, whether that be
hardware or software. Wired is a
must-read for anyone interested in
today’s technology — even for
someone as old as me.
When speaking of robots,
artificial intelligence (AI) usually enters
the conversation. The subject of AI is
always covered by at least one
monthly Wired article, as it is of great
interest to many of their readers.
However, some of today’s most
notable visionaries have a great fear
of AI and how we could be
“summoning the demon,” as
successful billionaire technical
industrialist, Elon Musk has stated.
Some level of AI will have to be
part of advanced personal robots;
either built into the robot itself, or
included in modern homes as the
intelligent interface between man and
machine via Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth,
or other RF technology.
With that in mind, rather than ask
if our homes are ready for robots,
why not ask if robots are ready for
our homes? Are they now or will they
soon be ready to be subservient to us
humans in our homes? We’ll have to
include advanced AI awareness in the
robots that will live among us.
These particular machines must
have the ultimate safeguards that are
much more in-depth than what Isaac
Asimov proposed in his ‘Three Laws of
Robotics’ over 75 years ago:
1. A robot may not injure a human
being or, through inaction, allow a
human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it
by human beings except where such
orders would conflict with the First
3. A robot must protect its own
existence as long as such protection
does not conflict with the First or
Are Robots Ready
for Our Homes?
Late last year, as I was trying to complete my February 2018 column about Robots in our Lives,
I was also reading about the new crop of robots that were going to make their debut at the huge
2018 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in early January in Las Vegas. Since the
products featured at this event are for consumers, the robots on exhibit were designed mostly
for people in their homes. Manufacturer's glowing descriptions of their products were proudly
touted in print and video media before the show, so I basically had that information to refer to
and write about in my own words. This is a continuation of that article, describing how and
where this new flock of bots might (or might not) fit into our homes.
74 SERVO 05/06.2018
by Tom Carroll TWCarroll@aol.com