Re: Robot Beats Samurai, Shows Future Of Industrial Robots
That demo from Yaskawa was pretty cool - apparently, their whole line of robots is called 'Motoman', and the model in the video is the MH24. According to Yaskawa's website, the MH24 also boasts a 24kg payload (so it's not just for precision tasks like sword-slashing), a longer life span than previous versions, and the ability to be floor, wall, or ceiling mounted, so it's suitable for a variety of tasks and you can pack a bunch of them pretty closely together.
I've heard of Baxter before, too - the learning technology is impressive in action, and the user-friendly approach is genius. The key in these robots seems to be in the variety of tasks they can do with simple part switch-outs and relearning - this makes the high upfront cost a worthy investment. Put these two robots (along with a few other technologies) together, and it's not hard to see how we're on the edge of the next big thing.
I agree with the idea that robot automation of jobs doesn't have to be gloom and doom... as long as the economy adapts to reflect it. Servicing/programming/etc. these robots will open up new skilled labor jobs, where we already have a talent shortage - and there will continue to be plenty of jobs for those with Computer Science degrees... but even if everyone finishes colleges, there still simply won't be enough jobs.
Some envision a shorter work week or strange job-sharing systems where people only 'use' all their hours as needed. One can imagine a Star Trek-esque future where we don't use money, but we aren't there yet. People still endure rough work conditions for horrid pay, even after their company slashes costs with automated systems and smart analytics. Our robot overlords should shrink the income gap, not increase it. The role of government regulation is a gray area, but this does not seem to be a self-regulating system thus far.