Technology has exploded in the last 10 yrs. Smart phones are the new norm, Internet is everywhere, electric cars are crushing it and now robots can backflip. Yes you read that right BACKFLIP.
Atlas is a new robot that has been designed by Boston Dynamics with funding and oversight from DARPA. Atlas was unveiled to the Public on July 11, 2013 and was designed for various search and rescue tasks. The original Atlas was constructed of mostly aluminum and titanium and stands 5'9" tall and weighs in at 330 pounds. The backflipping Atlas stands 4'9" 165 pounds. Atlas has 2 vision systems, LIDAR and stereo cameras that are controlled by an off-board computer.
Back in 2013 DARPA Program Manager Peter Gill Said:
A one year old child can barely walk, a one year old child falls down a lot...... this is where we are at.
So in 4 yrs atlas went from uncoordinated toddler to mediocre gymnast which is impressive. That seems pretty on par with how a human child develops motor skills. I wasn't able to backflip when I was 5 but I've seen 5yr olds back flip before. So if things keep progressing at this rate atlas just might be an olympian by his 18th (whatever the semantics for robot birthday is).
Are Humans Obsolete
The rise of the robots is something feared by a lot of people, even Elon Musk, but I'm not as scared of robots wiping out humanity as I am of robots destabilizing the workforce. We are already going through a robot revolution in manufacturing. The new robots of this decade are able to work alongside humans creating things as big as a jet engine or as small and delicate as a smart phone. Soon they won't even need to be working alongside humans.
The BBC estimated that in the next decade 30% of jobs will be lost to automation. So If you are a young person still trying to figure out what job you want I suggest you ask yourself "what are the odds a robot will be able to perform this job within the next 30 yrs" before making any serious commitments.
It's hard to say what this next generation of robots will do to the workforce but we can be certain that companies are investing heavily in automation.
The Good Side Of Automation
This might sound weird to say but automation might have some up sides to it. As you may know the U.S. pretty much has a yearly trade deficit with manufacturing countries like China and Mexico. Americans have already lost more jobs to China than they have to robots. If we could have an effective robot workforce we might be able to bring back companies that moved to china and reduce the deficit that we have with manufacturing nations. If that happens not many jobs will come back to the U.S. but we can at least take advantage of having some of those managerial positions back. A cheap robot workforce can make the U.S. competitive when it comes to manufacturing and would help us balance the budget. I have nothing against the Chinese people( I do with the Chinese Government) but I would rather have the job go to a robot in the U.S. than to a person outside the U.S. Maybe Automation might not be such a bad thing. The loss of jobs would suck but our economy would be doing a hell of a lot better.
Humans might not be obsolete just yet but the trend seems to be moving that way. And who knows? It might actually turn out to be something for the better.