Robotics, the branch of engineering and science that encompasses mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and others, has been widely mentioned recently in news media. Robotics itself deals with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. The word “robotics” was coined by a Russian-born American science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov in his 1942 short story “Runabout.” In this book, he characterized the robots in his short stories as helpful servants of man, a philosophy that continues today in the modern world when it comes to typical applications used in manufacturing and military exercises.
What can robots do? Most jobs robots are used for in today’s world involve repetitive, dangerous jobs which are seen as being too risky for humans. Robots are also used in factories to build vehicles, move heavy machinery from site to site, make harmful chemicals for use in pesticides, electronics for important structures and the list goes on. Robots are even used in the research of different medicines, for locating lost objects at hard to reach areas (like the bottom of the sea) and even to explore celestial bodies such as planets. Robotic technology has helped people who have lost arms or legs or have been unfortunately born without the strength to use their limbs effectively. Robots are a great tool to help mankind push forward in developing the modern world, from first world countries, to lesser off places that lack man power to support various industries.
However one cannot talk about this branch of science and not speak on the stigma attached to it. These pieces of technology are often seen as the destroyer of jobs and income for working class families; after all, why pay 50 men to do one job, where a few robots can complete the task, in less time, without needing a constant salary. Others believe robots will take over mankind with their superior intellect and strength- humans will run the risk of creating machines that can outsmart them in every way. These are all valid points, however, these cases cloud the bigger picture of how robots can actually push forward in scientific discoveries and applications that will aid us as a society going forward. Think not of how these AI (Artificial Intelligence) ran machines will get rid of jobs, instead think how they will create them. Robots themselves cannot function on their own; they require coders, engineers, researchers, testing facilities, and the list goes on.
We are often guilty in Barbados at looking at the small picture. Some may say that robotics have no effect on our daily living. That these things are only relevant to first world western countries and will not affect the common man by the rum shop. That is a dated belief that needs to be corrected. The world is a small place, STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields are driving innovation economies all over the world. Autonomous machinery in manufacturing is big on the world stage. Imagine, if our upcoming generations pushed forward in STEM research. Not only will they create jobs for themselves, but they will also open new avenues for others to follow in their footsteps. Robotics and STEM technologies on a whole would be a great plus for our economy, and noting how advanced we are in the Caribbean when it comes to telecommunication infrastructures, we are well posed to be the leading charge for robotic advancements, this side of the globe.