Google chairman Eric Schmidt thinks robots have their work cut out for them if they want to replace people.
“There’s something about humans that technologists always forget,” he said. “Humans are creative and unpredictable.”
But futurists like Ray Kurzweil are quick to point to indicators that machine “existence” will one day supersede that of standard human existence.
Kurzweil’s predictions have pegged such a time as still being many years away (our brains will supposedly be powered by computers in 2035), but already in the here and now, we have early examples of how robots will not only interact with humans, but may even one day replace humans in certain jobs.
Google's self-driving cars are already street legal in certain states. As they continue to be perfected, it's reasonable to imagine them as mostly autonomous delivery vehicles or cabs.
Unmanned military drones can already fly missions with or without a human behind the controls, and development of humanoid robots with arms and legs is getting so sufficiently advanced that they may end up 'stealing' soldiers' jobs.
Amazon teased its drone program and got everyone talking about automated delivery. The word is that Amazon will one day be able to dispatch your order to your home by way of GPS in 30 minutes or less if you live within 10 miles of a shipping hub.
As the technology improves and drones fly longer and faster, it's easy to imagine package delivery a la UPS becoming largely automated.
Whether it's a disabled child or an ageing adult, robots will eventually serve as full-time caretakers for people.
iRobot has a line of housecleaning robots that will gladly scrub and vacuum your floor. We've reviewed them before, and they're great.
Odds are that if you use one, you're probably not hiring a house cleaner.
NASA's Robonaut robot can carry out most of the tasks that a human astronaut would in space. A much safer and more affordable means to explore the universe, to be sure, but it only makes for fewer human astronaut jobs.
EdX, a nonprofit online course system founded by Harvard and MIT, has built a system that will automatically grade essays for those taking its classes, leaving educators free to do other things.
Don't like the grade you get back? EdX's system will let you immediately rewrite your essay if you choose.
Narrative Science is a company whose software generates written stories: feed it raw data, such as the details of a baseball game, and its Quill software will 'write' a story on it. It's aimed at making data consumption as easy as possible on a human level.
As the company's ad copy states, 'With spreadsheets, you have to calculate. With visualizations, you have to interpret. But with stories, all you have to do is read.'