Let’s back up a few decades and look at the Mac back in the mid-1980s. What did it do? Word processing. Then the LaserWriter came along, so did PageMaker, then plenty of apps that kinda sorta mostly rivaled the PC industry, but with point and click.
What does a Mac do today? All that, of course, and far, far, more. For about the same price. Look at what the iPhone did in 2007. A decade later it, too, does far, far, more. Some say Apple is working on Apple Car, a mostly autonomous vehicle for the future. But with Siri and interoperability between devices, I think Apple is prepping us for Apple Robot.
Robots Are Coming!
Robots are here already, of course, but most of them work in manufacturing jobs. Not many have invaded the home but you can see their early ancestors at work. Amazon Echo with Alexa. Google Home with Assistant, that Microsoft Cortana thing, and soon, Apple’s own HomePod. As robots, though, they don’t do much more than interact with us via voice commands, queries, responses, and the like.
That will change.
Sony and many other already are at work on cute little robots that can walk around the house and perform a few basic tasks. OK, let’s have our favorite iPhone maker build a robot that does the same thing, but put Siri’s brain inside. Now we’re talking Apple Robot. They’re here already and they’re evolving rapidly.
Most of the robots we see and hear about today are non-human-like, mostly appendages that perform specific tasks with, well, robot precision. These are not made for the masses. They’re made to, uh, make things. They do that very well.
Other than Siri’s voice (or, those of other Siri copycats), we humans don’t interact with a robot in the traditional sense. Siri is a voice which can take commands, respond to queries, and show up on multiple devices with ease. But Siri doesn’t walk. Yet.
That’s the kind of robot I’m talking about.
Robots from the ‘I, Robot‘ movie with Will Smith are the kind that I see taking over the world of mundane tasks; human-like creatures with physical capabilities far beyond our own, but with super smarts inside (and connected via wireless to a central location). At first, and maybe forever, we will have competing robot families capable of different tasks and functions, and that gives Apple’s software and hardware engineers an opportunity to create safe and family friendly robots.
That will compare sharply to other robots which are surely to follow from less scrupulous, less Disney-esque robot makers.
What I worry about falls into two categories, both of which Apple needs to be on frontline of discussion. First, safety. What safeguards will be built into each robot? Think 3 Laws Of Robotics as a start.
Second, I worry about humans. Other than interact with robots who have incredible sexual prowess, what will humans do when robots can do everything we do, but better, faster, and for less?