Are We Ready for Robots?

Let’s face it. There is a whole lot more to robots than just making beeping noises and piloting starships on the various sci-fi shows today. There are a lot of concerns and even a few phobias surrounding these guys. Check it out for yourself:

Last month, at a trade show in Orlando, Florida, Sony Electronics invited the media to a launch party for some new products. Our host was QRIO, Sony’s robot “ambassador” who entertained the crowd with a little song and dance routine. It was fine enough, as far as robot song and dance routines go. But as I watched the diminutive QRIO gyrate, a darker thought crept into my mind. What if QRIO tired of its vaudeville shtick and desired something a little more interactive.

I pictured QRIO’s green eyes darkening, before suddenly leaping off the stage onto the throat of the closest onlooker. Before the stunned crowd could react, QRIO revealed its other tricks: concealed tasers and pepper spray guns. The blinded and electrified onlookers proved no match for the relentless QRIO as it cut a swath of destruction toward the exit. When the authorities finally gunned QRIO down (inside a Best Buy trying to liberate the DVD players), it had left dozens dead and hundreds wounded in its wake.

Alas, QRIO stuck to the script and we endured the rest of the product presentation. But as robots make their way from the obscurity of the lab to the light of human society, our minds, conditioned by years of sci-fi dystopias, sense danger. We instinctively ask: are we on a collision course with our own creations?