(Opinion) Robots and Their Role in our Future

If you’ve been on campus this fall semester chances are you’ve seen the kiwibots zipping around. The kiwibots deliver food to students and have emoticons displaying their cute faces. The little robots are the product of the tech startup Kiwi Campus, who started in 2017 on the University of California Berkeley Campus. Following the past few years these bots usage has become really popular across campuses around the country. During a pandemic or a storm these robots are a huge help delivering meals to students. These robots represent the future of our economy, workers being replaced by robots.

Photo of Kiwibots on SMCC campus by Gavin Chambers

This phenomenon isn’t new as many factory jobs were replaced years ago. Take a trip to the grocery store and cashiers have primarily been replaced by self checkouts. However, as technology advances, the robots created will be able to perform more complex tasks. If you take a look at Boston Dynamics, a company that specializes in creating robots, it’s clear to see that many working class jobs will be replaced by robots. Why pay a human a working wage with benefits, when a robot is a one time payment?

The robots won’t just be used for delivering food and manufacturing jobs as some police forces and militaries have begun weaponizing this technology. Machine guns are being attached to these little dogs and programmed to shoot. While Boston Dynamics claims they don’t want their robots to be used in wars, militaries and police forces are some of the few groups able to afford these robots as the NYPD used their dog robot.

The good news is that public outcry helped terminate the NYPD’s use of boston dynamics robot dogs. In theory these robots were supposed to be used in situations where officers can’t be used, but if we know anything about policing in America all issues will be solved with hammers. The robot dog was sent into a public housing building during a domestic dispute in manhattan. What purpose does the robot have during a domestic dispute other than to instill fear? Another instance of the robots deployment was cited in The New York Times article when the robots were sent into a home in the Bronx. The robots were sent into an active home invasion which could’ve potentially escalated the situation as the invaders would have reacted violently in retaliation.

The world is rapidly advancing in this technological age as robots become part of the norm. Next time you see a kiwibot flash its emoji eyes at you on campus, reflect on the future of robotics and the many uses they’ll have in our society. Whether it be a positive; food delivery for students, manufacturing products, saving lives, or being weaponized in a dystopian police state. Robots being part of our everyday lives is inevitable; their roles are yet to be decided by we the people.

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