Robots can withstand Coronavirus and have been of greater help to humanity in this trying times.
Coronavirus has put a rocket under plans for more automation, robotization, and the use of AI.
Should we fear for our jobs – or will we just get better ones?
ON AN upper floor, something stirs in the semi-darkness of a closed shopping center.
It stops in front of a clothing store, bathing the window display in searing light.
No alarm bells sound, no security guards rush forth.
The Sunburst UV Bot, with its 1000 watts’ worth of UVC light capable of “tearing apart strands of virus DNA”, comes here every night, as well as to a few other malls and hospitals in Singapore.
It is doing something that human workers would have done before the covid-19 pandemic: cleaning.
Similar scenes are occurring across the world. In Texan hospitals, Moxi delivers medications, lab samples, and supplies.
James the telepresence bot helps residents at Belgian care homes stay connected.
Other robot scrub supermarket floors, deliver meals to people in quarantine, and even help walk the dog.
Meanwhile, non-embodied artificial intelligence is assisting in everything from contact tracing and cracking the coronavirus’s genetic code to the logistics and customer fulfillment of an increasingly online commercial world.
This trend towards automation and robotization isn’t new – but covid-19 is vastly accelerating it.
“What this pandemic has done is make people extremely aware of hygiene and the need to distance”, says Richard Pak at Clemson University in South Carolina.
“In these times, robots and automation definitely provide a safety benefit.”
And perhaps also a huge problem. Unemployment has shot up as coronavirus has hit the global economy.
What happens if we emerge from the covid-19 recession to find that jobs have permanently gone – with no plan B to keep us gainfully employed?
The rise …