Published By: Robbie Befort
Do you remember a time when there was a clear distinction between human dominion and technology? When robots and artificial intelligence were generally viewed as an interesting concept in science fiction novels and Saturday morning cartoons? I can remember reading dystopian cyberpunk books as a kid thinking “Whoa, the implications of AI are quite terrifying” but always found solace in believing it was so far into the future that there was no need to worry. Fast forward a couple of decades and we’ve already crossed the Rubicon. Artificial intelligence and robot technologies have become integral to everyday life and have altered the foundation of society itself. The way we used to think of robots as serving us has quickly turned into endless “what if” theories on the possibilities of what may happen if we’re not careful. I even caught myself second guessing how I interacted with a self checkout register at the grocery store, thinking “follow proper procedure or you’ll hurt the robots feelings” – the voice persona inside the machine, a robotic voice with somewhat of a British accent. This very concept of an intelligent AI that potentially could have feelings has become more of a reality, even though I knew this particular robot wasn’t nearly as advanced as the life-like robots being developed in Japan or those depicted in cinema as the extreme archetype; the robot in the film Ex Machina. Nonetheless, it felt quite odd to consider the scope of AI and the inevitable role intelligent machines will play in our everyday lives.
With new developments in robotics, there is not only a growing paranoia among humans about artificial intelligence being a threat to our existence, but also a fear robots will take our jobs. This has already been happening in recent years much to the consternation of those paying attention to this rapidly growing industry. So how far can this REALLY go one might ask themselves? According to a recent study from the global consultancy McKinsey & Co, roughly 50% of current work activities are automatable with modern demonstrated technologies. The study goes on to scare the heck out of me personally, indicating that most of us will need to pick up new skills just to keep workingin the not-so-distant future. Here is a list of sixteen professions largely impacted.
This got me thinking about the implications for the device repair industry. Yes, Apple’s Horizon Machine doesn’t completely replace a cracked screen on an iPhone, but what about in 5, maybe 10 years? I certainly can envisage a scenario where a complete screen repair/replacement is possible by a machine or robot. Sure these machines would be expensive at first but as we’ve seen throughout the history of mankind, technology becomes cheaper to produce and manufacture until it becomes an affordable staple in society and the workplace. So let’s say there is a smartphone repair machine/robot, then why not an iPad repair machine and so on? Imagine a kiosk next to every mall escalator in America, where you put your phone in with a cracked screen and five minutes later – presto! Brand new glass and off you go. Certainly this would be the end to thousands of the smaller electronics repair shops nationwide as the bulk of
repairs performed are screen related. It certainly would directly affect the parts business as well, shifting the target clientele to the companies who own/operate the kiosks and machines etc.
So, while AI is here to stay, I feel it’s best not to panic but rather marinate on the fun/nier potential of robots. How wild would it be if robots developed a sense of humor? Of course derived out of some sort of super-complex algorithm, that would continually progress with time. Would this give rise to stand up comedian robots? I don’t know but definitely fascinating to consider. I personally find the robot dog “pets” like Sony’s newest Aibo dog pretty hilarious so for my own good (boy), I’ll end the speculation and play fetch with the here and now – enjoying the incredible benefits of robotic technologies.