President Obama wants to reinvigorate the U.S. economy with a little help from some robots. Lots of robots.
Speaking at the launch of the National Robotics Initiative, he joked:
“You might not know this, but one of my responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief is to keep an eye on robots. And I’m pleased to report that the robots you manufacture here seem peaceful – at least for now.”
The National Robotics Initiative (which sounds like something Hollywood would invent, with a massive concrete-and-glass campus overlooking the sea) has a clearly stated goal:
“The goal of the National Robotics Initiative is to accelerate the development and use of robots in the United States that work beside, or cooperatively with, people.”
If you think that means we’re going to get all Will Smith from I Robot here, think again. Humanoid metal servants are still a long way off. This is about uglier robots with more limbs and more sensors across a wider light spectrum. Useful robots.
The Obama administration wants to re-boot the manufacturing industry, so that Americans can still earn a living doing something that long ago became a lot cheaper to do in the Far East. If we get robots to do the actual building, and if we create enough of them, we can create jobs for people working alongside the robots. Maintaining them, installing them, and doing the occasional tasks that the robots can’t handle.
The government’s $70 million contribution is just a drop in the ocean, compared to the wider $500 million budget for the whole initiative.
The plan isn’t just to start designing new robots, but to start making them part of society. Robots everywhere, for the benefit of all.
From the initiative’s web page:
“Methods for the establishment and infusion of robotics in educational curricula and research to gain a better understanding of the long term social, behavioral and economic implications of co-robots across all areas of human activity are important parts of this initiative.”
Actually that does start sounding a little bit I, Robot, doesn’t it?
[via The Register]