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Ivan Kirigin's views on Robotics & Culture: future. perfect. progress.

Monday, April 17, 2006

"Drone aircraft may prowl U.S. skies"

UAVs are becoming very common - for very good reason: they protect the operator, have extremely long air time and range capabilities, and will scale well into fuller autonomy.

This is an article in the use domestically in the US. I think it makes a great deal of sense.

Putting UAVs, UGVs, and cameras along the border and seas is essential.

Robotics enters the immigration debate in two ways. One is border security. Regardless of the number of immigrants you think should come to the US, it is clear that current policy allows anyone with enough desire to enter the US. A robotic system would compliment a brick-n-mortar solution, namely a wall with cameras, combined with a road for UGVs. It is the only economically feasible solution, and luckily is the only one that would work.

On the other side of the immigration issue are those who oppose it: one reason given is that low skill labor is so cheap with mass immigration that innovation is stifled. With cheap labor, you don't need robots. Folks like to point to Japan as an example. Last I checked, ASIMO is not autonomous. The technology just isn't there yet.

Also, research dollars are huge. There are no numbers to show that higher immigration lowers demand for intelligent robots.

Finally, the same folks who want to limit immigration in order to increase innovation also want to limit immigration because the wages of natives will supposedly increase. Firstly, they're wrong in that immigration isn't zero sum: it isn't a simple increased-supply/fixed-demand issue with low-skilled labor if enough entreprenurial folks immigrate and create more demand. Considering the endeavoring nature of immigration, I wouldn't be surprised if the proportion of entreprenuers is higher than the country of origin.

Also, I don't think they understand the effect that successful intelligent robots will have on low-skill labor.

There will simply be no demand for uneducated or uncreative once all non-creative jobs can be done by robots. The reason is that the technology to do the most difficult unskilled tasks is not unique for a given field. If a robot’s perception and dexterity is good enough to be a maid, it will also let you act as a dishwasher, construction worker, farm hand, or driver.

This transition will be good: robots should work; people should think. In the short term, those who, say, don't have a high school education and are not creative, will be worse off.


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