The Pandora Box is Open: What to Do as Robots are here & coming on strong?

I recently, got into an argument about robotics, where the question centered on robotics taking away jobs. And my answer was, of course, robotics will take away jobs, but robotics would also creative jobs. Also my argument was, can anyone stop robotics from development and being used more and more, as today, the reality is robotic science and artificial intelligence is getting highly advanced, and robotics usage is all over, in all sorts of industry and services, and being used more.

My argument was, the question about robotics and related, such as artificial intelligence, should be on how best to harness, this technology, as for example in medical science, there are great benefits.


Communications of the ACM (source

The Great Robotics Debate

Are robots and automation destroying more jobs than they are creating?


The field of artificial intelligence has been accompanied by a vigorous debate essentially from its very beginnings. Alan Turing addressed the issue of machine intelligence in 1950 in what is probably his most well known paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” where he proposed the “Imitation Game,” now known as the “Turing Test,” as an operational definition for machine intelligence. The main focus of the paper is the possibility of machine intelligence. Turing carefully analyzed and rebutted arguments against machine intelligence and stated, “I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”

This view was later strenuously contested by philosophers such as Hubert Dreyfus and John Searle, who argued against the possibility of intelligent machines.

Many of the early AI pioneers were also brimming with unbounded optimism. Marvin Minsky wrote in 1967: “Within a generation…the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will substantially be solved.” Perhaps because of such overoptimism, AI has suffered from repeated “AI Winters”: periods that were characterized by slow progress and a dearth of research funding. AI researchers refer to the “First AI Winter,” 1974–1980, and “Second AI Winter,” 1987–1993.

More recently a major debate has erupted among economists regarding the impact of robots and automation on jobs and the possibility of technological unemployment. The traditional approach by economists is skeptical of Luddism—the fear of the inevitable changes brought about by new technology. Such a position was expressed by Kenneth Rogoff, who wrote last year, “Since the dawn of the industrial age, a recurrent fear has been that technological change will spawn mass unemployment.

Neoclassical economists predicted that this would not happen, because people would find other jobs, albeit possibly after a long period of painful adjustment. By and large, that prediction has proven to be correct.” But in a recent working paper, “Smart Machines and Long-Term Misery,” Jeffrey Sachs and Laurence Kotlikoff posed the question, “What if machines are getting so smart, thanks to their microprocessor brains, that they no longer need unskilled labor to operate?”

After all, they point out, “Smart machines now collect our highway tolls, check us out at stores, take our blood pressure, massage our backs, give us directions, answer our phones, print our documents, transmit our messages, rock our babies, read our books, turn on our lights, shine our shoes, guard our homes, fly our planes, write our wills, teach our children, kill our enemies, and the list goes on.”

It is in the context of the Great Recession that people started noticing that while machines have yet to exceed humans in intelligence, they are getting intelligent enough to have a major impact on the job market. In his 2009 book, The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, Martin Ford asked: “What economic impact will technological acceleration have as we anticipate recovery from the current crisis—and in the years and decades ahead?”

In their 2011 book, Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argued that “technological progress is accelerating innovation even as it leaves many types of workers behind.”

It is only this year that this debate moved from economics to computer science. In an interview with Steven Cherry earlier this year for IEEE Spectrum’s Techwise Conversations, I argued that “by 2045 machines will be able to do if not any work that humans can do, then a very significant fraction of the work that humans can do” (, and wondered whether we are ready for a world in which half the adult population does not work. In a follow-up interview, Henrik Christensen, a Georgia Tech professor of robotics, disagreed and argued that automation is still creating more jobs than it destroys (

This is a fundamental debate. Robotics is clearly going to be a key economic enabler, as declared in the recent report “Roadmap for U.S. Robotics,” perhaps as transformative as the Internet, but will its fruits be distributed equitably or will it create classes of haves and have-nots? We are launching this debate in the pages of Communications with this editorial and a Viewpoint article by Martin Ford (p. 37). I view this discussion as one of the most important our community needs to engage in, and I hope to see a robust conversation.


The Arguments For or Against Robotics (source

Orthopaedics is one of the primary areas of surgery where robotic applications have been developed. Though robotic surgery is already in use, it continues to raise questions in terms of safety, cost effectiveness of the technology, practicality, and whether it is the best option for surgeons.
In terms of enhancing patient care and offering the best technology for medical professionals to perform robotic surgeries, there are many obstacles and limitations to conquer before robotic surgery technique can be incorporated fully into the medical domain.

“Because there are no published long-term data describing the efficiency of robot-supported orthopaedic surgery, the technology remains underused.”

Despite having advantages such as better accuracy levels and precision in the preparation of bone surfaces, more consistent and reproducible results and better spatial accuracy over conventional orthopaedic procedures, the successful use of robotic surgery in the field of orthopaedics continues to be questioned.

While several short-term studies have substantiated the feasibility of using robotic applications in orthopaedic surgeries, factors such as low ROI, the need for special training and limited applicability have contributed to the restricted use of robotics in orthopaedics. Also, because there are no published long-term data describing the efficiency of robot-supported orthopaedic surgery, the technology remains underused.
Advancing technology moves robotics ahead

The medical industry has seen dramatic changes in terms of technological advances and developments associated with computer and robot-assisted surgical procedures. These changes have been made possible not only by advances in engineering technology and computing, but also by the need to improve clinical outcomes, reduce cost and improve the efficiency of health delivery.

Robotics technology has been developed since 1983 for a variety of surgical speciality areas such as orthopaedics surgery, cardiac surgery, abdominal surgery, neurosurgery and thoracic surgery, among others.
“With a price tag of nearly a million dollars, cost effectiveness has always been a concern.”

The introduction of robotic technology in orthopaedics surgery in the late 1980s has shown the path to lead to the first robot-assisted hip replacement performed on a human in the year 1992. This technology was subsequently commercialised in 1994 following approval by the EU.
Though the majority of the preliminary research and development was carried out by schools and centres in Germany, the interest has spread not only over its European counterparts but also to North America and the rest of the world.

Orthopaedic applications that are of maximum interest to surgeons, scientists and hospitals are knee and hip replacement and spinal fusion. Bones are relatively simple to manipulate and deform little during the process of cutting when compared to operating on soft tissues, so image-driven techniques are quite straightforward for the implementation purpose of surgeries.

The outcome is that robotic applications can result in better agreement with a predefined plan than with similar manual procedures. Additional work is being carried out in the other areas such as fracture treatment and craniofacial reconstruction.

Commercially available robotic devices can be classified as active or passive devices or can be classified as positioning or cutting/milling devices. Some of the well-known specific path techniques used in orthopaedic surgeries include ROBODOC, ACROBOT, CASPAR (Computer Assisted Surgery, Planning and Robotics) and Minerva (neurosurgical robot).


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