Welcome to the Future: Robotic Employees

Eric Warner   Staff Writer​

Shoppers may have noticed Marty, a new and very peculiar robotic worker, working at their local Stop & Shop. Earlier this year the marketplace deployed these autonomous employees to selected stores. Marty and the other robotic workers are designed to routinely roam around design, many employees and customers are displeased with the idea of a robot as the harbinger for a completely mechanized future being so close to them.

Ever since the first appearance of robots in the 1920 play R.U.R. by Karel Capek, humanity has had a sort of existential dilemma with the creation of artificial beings, which arose two questions: Should societies invest in creating robotic workers or artificial intelligences? Should they take the warnings that these creatures would spell the end of humanity seriously?

Many people are apprehensive to the development of robots in society. They predict that these workers could take their jobs or could possibly revolt against their owners. Despite many robots being far away from these destructive capabilities or even true sentience, these are concepts held by many in the U.S.

Rather than looking at the negative side of the rapid integration of robots in today’s society, people should try and look at the positive potential of these artificial workers. With the rapid decline of rural populations and interest within modern generations in agricultural jobs, farming has been in a critical state with more and even more strenuous demands for food production due to rapid population growth. Companies, such as Harvest Croo Robotics, SwagBot, Iron Ox, and so many others are striving to tackle these problems facing the farming industry by incorporating efficient and relatively cheap robots into their staff. According to Robotics Business Reviews, farmers, “…expect that robots will decrease wages and other labor costs, which constitute 40% of farms costs in the U.S. alone.”

In terms of the actual assembly of the vehicle, readers are probably aware of robots making up a majority of the workforce in the car industry, however, robots are also appearing in other fields across the globe. For example, in Japan, construction robots are being pushed through the assembly helpline and even in retirement homes to replace the aging workforce. Additionally, they are seen helping people exercise and comforted people in times of distress.

Someone who understood the potential of investing in robotic developments was Stephen Hawking. In his last book, Brief Answers To The Big Questions, Hawking answered, to the best of his ability, enthralling questions such as: is there a God, is time travel possible, and will artificial intelligence outsmart us? He answered one of those questions by stating, “…AI [Artificial Intelligence] has the potential to eradicate disease and poverty, but researchers must work to create an AI that can be controlled.”

As stated by Hawking, “computers are expected to overtake humans in intelligence within the next hundred years, so when AI becomes better than their own creators at designing new AI without human intervention, researchers must ensure that these AI would have goals that align with their creators.” He also believes that robotic beings may be the true interstellar creatures of Earth. Unlike humans, robots can travel for very long distances and times with little change; also, they can easily land on suitable planets and produce more interstellar travelers or repair themselves. Robots have the potential to replace DNA-based life in the universe and serve as the true embodiment of human intuition while ensuring that earth would have a legacy beyond the solar system.

Like any new creation or discovery, people will have fears and hopes for these new aspects of our culture. People should strive to look at robots and AI, even like Marty, in an optimistic light. These artificial beings and their creators aren’t trying to start the next apocalypse or even take away people’s jobs; they’re just trying to make life easier and better for everyone. As a wise man once said, “We must not fear change. We need to make it work to our advantage.”

Campus Lantern
The Campus Lantern is the school newspaper at Eastern Connecticut State University. The Lantern is run by students, for students and reports on everything hppening around campus. We publish every other week. The Lantern has been in publication since 1945.

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