We are accustomed to them in sci-fiction, but they are becoming more common in real life. Do we think this is a good thing? Some examples.
A Chinese company, Pangolin, produces not only kitchen staff but waiters as well. According to one restaurant manager quoted a while back in The Times, the use of robots allows him to employ only a third of the normal number of human staff.
No doubt policeman like the kitchen staff idea since robots are not likely to spit in their food before serving it up. And the rest of us? The way I see it, robot waiters will not require a tip.
Little attempt is made to give robots human features. The same is not true of androids, which are intended to resemble us. The following example is an android hotel receptionist made by the robotics company Kokoro. I don’t know what her name is, maybe she doesn’t have one yet, but I do know she speaks four languages – which is three more than your average bear and quite impressive, really. Depending on how well she speaks them. Guests of amorous disposition will wish to know what she will be doing at the end of her shift, but she will surely remain tight-lipped.
I move swiftly on to two products of the French company Aldebaran Robotics. The first is a bank clerk by the name of Nao. From April 2015, Nao will be working in several branches of the Mitsubishi Bank. Rumour has it that Nao is entirely trustworthy and will never become the inside man in a heist. Time will tell.
And lastly, Pepper, who will be selling Nespresso coffee machines in Japan in the course of the year.
Are we in favour of this trend? I have only just recovered from reading about a lady who lost most of her hair to a robotic vacuum cleaner – though falling asleep on the floor didn’t help.