Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking believed that robots would replace humankind — and robotic technology has been growing faster than expected.
A United States tech company has been working on making a robotic dog that people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia could befriend.
Development of such a mechanical dog comes amid reports, by institutions like Oxford Economics, that robots will be soon be replacing up to 20 million factory jobs by 2030.
And this fast development in robotic technology begs the inevitable question: are robots a threat to mankind?
Stealing our jobs
There are currently 2.25 million robots in use worldwide, a report by Oxford Economics suggested, which also said the number has multiplied over the past two decades.
The report said the rise in robotic technology would boost economic growth together with productivity and create new jobs in industries, but it also said this would cause millions of manufacturing jobs to be lost to robots.
In the next 20 years, the report said, the global stock of robots would reach as many as 20 million by 2030, with 14 million in China only.
Countries and regions across the world would show different figures in job losses, said the report, adding a disproportionate toll would be inevitable on lower-skilled workers and on poorer local economies.
The report also found that robots lead to almost twice as many manufacturing job losses in lower-skilled regions.
Danger for humans?
There is no doubt that robotic technology has contributed much to mankind in various fields of daily life. However, there are plenty of studies that have said robots pose a threat to mankind.
Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who died last year, was concerned with the rise in robot automation.
“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality,” Hawking said in a Reddit session in October 2015.
Hawking’s approach to robotic development technology did not only focus on the industrial fields, but also on people’s lives directly.
He also believed that artificial intelligence may replace humans altogether.