Amazon is set to welcome robots:
Electronics companies have for years paraded around flashy, futuristic prototypes of consumer robots. They’ve pointed to a not-too-distant future where people will have roaming robot helpers around their home that can do the dishes or even act as a personal masseuse. So far, few of those predictions have panned out, and they largely remain the stuff of science fiction.
Last week, at Amazon’s re:MARS technology conference in Las Vegas, the e-commerce giant and other technology companies in attendance showed off the latest in robotics. On stage at re:MARS, Brady described how Amazon is using robots to get packages prepped and ready to ship out, but he asserted the job can’t be done without people.
Take Amazon’s Astro robot, for example. The company last September unveiled the long-rumored home robot, which costs $1,000 for invitation-only shoppers. It will cost $1,500 once it launches publicly at a date yet to be announced. At re:MARS, Astro greeted visitors of a mock smart home tricked out with an array of internet-connected devices.
At roughly two feet tall, Astro appears similar to a tablet on wheels. It can follow you around the house and play music, or carry drinks in a cup holder built into the device. Astro has a camera perched on top of a periscope that can rise up high enough to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. It can dance to disco in your kitchen.
But the thing is throughout history, people have always feared technology because they were scared it would make their jobs obsolete. Cars, the printing press, industrial technology, all these things were met with fear in the past. People were afraid these things would put them out of work, but in every case, they did not.
Instead, technology creates new industries, new jobs, and more prosperity as a whole. With robots, the same thing is happening today. People in manufacturing are afraid their jobs will be taken, but new jobs are already being created.
Whether it’s someone to program the robots, or a human to work on more intricate tasks that robots can’t perform, new roles are emerging as robots increase production and lower costs. Back-breaking jobs that humans hate can now be given to robots, thus freeing them up to do more rewarding work.
So, it will be fun to see how Amazon will welcome robotics technology when people still fear how and what will change.