By 2025, ‘sexbots will be commonplace’ – which is just fine, as we’ll all be unemployed and bored thanks to robots stealing our jobs
According to a new report that looks at how continuing improvements to artificial intelligence and robotics will impact society, “robotic sex partners will become commonplace” by 2025. A large portion of the report also focuses on how AI and robotics will impact both blue- and white-collar workers, with about 50% of the polled experts stating that robots will displace more human jobs than they create by 2025.
The report, called “AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs” and published by Pew Research, is a 66-page monster [PDF]. The report basically consists of a bunch of experts waxing lyrical about what the world will look like in 2025 if robots and AI continue to advance at the same scary pace of the last few years. Almost every expert agreed that robots and AI will no longer be constrained to repetitive tasks on a production line, and will permeate “wide segments of daily life by 2025.” The experts are almost perfectly split on whether these everyday robots will be a boon or a menace to society, though — but more on that at the end of the story.
While the report is full of juicy sound bites from experts such as Vint Cerf, danah boyd, and David Clark, one quote by GigaOM Research’s Stowe Boyd caught my eye. By 2025, according to Boyd, “Robotic sex partners will be a commonplace, although the source of scorn and division, the way that critics today bemoan selfies as an indicator of all that’s wrong with the world.”
Back in 2012 — a long time ago in today’s tech climate — I wrote that we’d have realistic sexbots by around 2017. These robostitutes won’t necessarily have human-level intelligence (that’s still another 10+ years away I think), but they’ll look, move, and feel a lot like real humans. In short, they’ll probably be good enough to satisfy most sexual urges. What effect these sexbots will have on human-human relationships, and the sex and human trafficking trades, remains to be seen. At a bare minimum, a lot of sex workers will probably lose their jobs. If lovotics — the study of human-robot relationships — becomes advanced enough and people start falling in love with their sexbots (or rather partnerbots), then there could be some wide-ranging repercussions.
But, back to the bigger story: Will advanced AI and robots make the world a better place or not? Basically everyone agrees that robotics and AI are going to displace a lot of jobs over the next few years as the general-purpose robot comes of age. Even though these early general-purpose bots (such as Baxter in the video below) won’t be as fast or flexible as humans, they will be flexible enough that they can perform various menial tasks 24/7 — and cost just a few cents of electricity, rather than minimum wage. Likewise, self-driving vehicles will replace truck drivers, taxis, pizza delivery kids, and so on. [Read: Virtual reality and the future of sex.]
Displacing jobs with robots isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Historically, robots have been a net creator of jobs, as they free up humans to work on more interesting things — and invent entirely new sectors to work in. More robots also means less drudgery — less tilling the fields, less stop-start commute driving — and in theory more time spent playing games, interacting with your family, etc.
On the other hand, the robot jobocalypse is likely to happen very quickly — so fast that our economic, education, and political systems may struggle to keep up. Previously robots mostly replaced blue-collar workers, but this next wave will increasingly replace skilled/professional white-collar workers. A lot of these specialized workers may find themselves without a job, and without the means to find a new one. We may suddenly see a lot of 50-year-olds going back to university.
Author: By Sebastian Anthony