It’s not every day someone like me thinks about starting a company, or even investing money I don’t have in one, but the field of robotics is in desperate need of someone with a realistic, focused vision of how to incorporate robotics into our daily lives. So far, robots have been made that learn spatial environments, cook, clean, and do all of the other things necessary for them to start making the lives of the everyday household easier. My company would be called Botco, and would open with two products -- each sold for about half the price of your average car -- KitchenBot and YardBot. Later, you would have a million more Bots to do various things, but what we would be selling, at first, would be a cooking robot that downloads recipes from the internet (it would fly), and a wheeled, non-humanoid robot that could mow your lawn, rake the leaves, plant and water your garden, and do landscaping. Yardbot would have mower blades underneath it, and a retractable arm with various tool-shaped attachments that go on the end of it. It would also configure or landscape your yard according to a design that it downloads from the internet. Each recipe and design from the internet would be treated like an “app” of sorts, that would cost about $50 for a landscape, and maybe $30 for a recipe that you could make any time you want to. They would not be cheap, like cell phone apps, because programming a robot is a more specialized skill.
But is it moral to let robots do the work that we once did ourselves? In my opinion, yes it would be. Robots like these are definitely not intelligent beings, and asking that would be like asking if using other machines is moral. The only issue I respect, in this debate, is the question of jobs. Will robots make manual laborers obsolete? Admittedly, there would be work for some brainy landscapers and cooks, who know how to turn their designs and recipes into “apps”. I could even envision a flexible pay schedule, for independent designers, where the designer sets a price for both the app itself -- in household use -- and for the one-time sale of commercial rights: so that a company or restaurant could use Bots to create items for sale. Again, more lost jobs.
The only thing I can say to this concern is that it might not be time for this kind of company to make our lives easier -- yet. But that time will come, and I, for one, look forward to it. With a couple of other robots I envision -- FarmBot and ConstructionBot -- we could live in a world where there is a skyscraper in every small town, and zero hunger for anyone, anywhere. Every human endeavor of the physical would be done for the cost of materials and electricity, with a relatively small royalty to the designer of the software, and an initial investment that I think plenty of people would be willing to make. But how would people make money? I have an answer for a lot of people, but not everyone. Art isn’t for just anyone, nor is it especially profitable in the age of the internet, when so many people are just giving it away for free [myself included]. But then, there are a lot of people who just aren’t inclined to do art, sport, entertainment, or anything other than the manual labor jobs we could do cheaper and better with robots. Is it the time to reach out to the possibilities that are becoming available to us? I leave that up to you. Too much of a headache for my prematurely-sentimental mind.