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    • I had some socially distanced coffee yesterday in downtown Mountain View with a friend, where they have closed the main street so restaurants can move their tables outside. It's awesome.

      There was a smallish grocery store/deli near our table and these little delivery robots were lined up in front, getting loaded by store clerks with sandwiches and salads from the deli + a bottle of wine or whatever, and off they went past our table and into neighborhoods unknown for delivery.

      It was slightly unnerving in a way Uber Eats drivers aren't. I guess it's because they share the sidewalk with you. I kept telling myself to get used to it, this is our future: robots among the pedestrians waiting for the light to turn green to cross in the crosswalk like the rest of us.

      It was clearly working and people were liking and using them. The line of robots in front of the store ranged from 1 to 5 at any time.

      What do you think? Are the robots finally invading?

    • The robots certainly are arriving. Something I have been waiting for since I was probably 9 years old. Now that they are here, my more mature brain is equally as concerned as it is excited.

      Will robots evolve to supplement or replace what it is to be human? With the arrival of advanced AI and Quantum computing my concerns are becoming more pronounced, especially with a centralized, provider centric connection behind the wheel.

      How will robotics and automation impact the future of work? Where will the displaced workers go with the cost of education increasing exponentially? I just can't see how this would not drive an even larger wedge in the wealth gap?

      On the other hand, I see the potential of smaller communities being revitalized around driverless pods moving goods and people around while small businesseses more effectively compete with the Walmarts and the Targets of the world through advanced means of inventory control, transportation, and communication.

      With the rise of telecommuting and people working in the communities where they live due to Covid 19, I have to wonder what possibilities might come from this world of automation. Could we start to see a renaissance of Main Street culture with parks and walkways where small mom and pop businesses start to thrive. I certainly hope so.

      If humans are behind the wheel, I am personally incredibly optimistic. If we are not, well I guess we'll just have to see how it all shakes out. I'm not hopeful though.

    • I grew up before personal computers were ubiquitous and while Isaac Asimov was still writing robot stories. My idea of robots as a child was influenced strongly by Asimov's earlier dilemma stories long before he came up with the zeroth law.

      After using computers for well over 30 years, I can no longer think of robots the way that I did as a child. Robots are nothing but computers with hardware that is able to perform transportation and manipulation functions.

      When I first started using computers, there was a lot of hoopla about AI but in the years since the only thing that has become somewhat sophisticated is the automated car and it is so far from having anything that approaches Asimov's robots.

      I use both dictation software and electronic reading software. Their inability to handle the simplest contextual analysis with adequate precision is both frustrating and enlightening.

      I've also read articles on how limited machine learning is. These articles remind me of the phrase "one trick pony." True, they might be able to handle four or five tricks but machine learning has a very long way to go before being able to handle the wide variety of choices most humans may make in the course of ten minutes.

      When I was a boy, the world of the Jetsons did not seem that far away but 50 years later it seems a lot farther away than I thought it was back then.

    • I think some of the interesting aspects of robotization are the creation of further dependencies, some of which aren't even easy to foresee. We already are so removed from the food chain, it's production and distribution. Gone are the days many - at least in the countryside - would have been able to simply go in the garden and rip a genuine, naturally grown tomato, from their own homegrown vine. It's amazing how spoiled we are by choices available, but also how dumbed down and without much in the way of control of our alimentation provenience, selection, and quality. Yes the robots are "cool" definitely, but why are they even necessary?

    • We don't have such robots in Malaysia yet, probably because of how Malaysian cities/housing areas are designed. Such robots couldn't make deliveries in this country, or the delivery radius will be extremely small and not worth all the investment.

      The closest thing we have are little robots on belts in sushi restaurants that deliver food to your table from the kitchen.