In an article on Happy News, we see robots being used to supplement medical rehabilitation where there is a shortage of nurses and therapists. For physical therapy, the robot is a “cross between an exercise machine and video game”. The robots become more interactive with the humans. It is not a stretch between this and robots being able to teach humans how to dance. This is advantageous for several reasons, and of course has its constraints:
- Robots are likely more consistent, reliable, and will become less expensive than humans for introductory to intermediate-levels of learning and expertise, and the routine teaching of such tasks, skills, and information;
- Robot-to-human interaction can alleviate the kinds of negative social fears and pressure that human instruction has; and
- Robots are good for rote performance, such as the basic sensor-driven janitor bots
We already have reports that robot research is moving in the direction of filling other jobs for which humans are becoming more scarce, for example security guards and retail salespeople (erp, salesbots??) in Japan, a country with an aging population and decreasing labor supply. IMHO, these tasks should not be considered desirable jobs by humans, so I see this as a welcome practice.
OTOH, it becomes even more important to move forward on development of human skills and abilities, and constructing jobs that provide high degrees of autonomy, satisfaction, and opportunity for analytic and creative breakthroughs. This will drive the economy in at least the coming 20 years or so (potentially AI can begin producing such breakthroughs at about that point). Dreyfus and Dreyfus have a compelling book comparing mind and machine, yet additional progress has been made in terms of model-free adaptive learning that a neural network simulation of the brain might provide.
Peter Drucker has stated that there will be winners and losers in this knowledge-based economy. It is important not to see robots gaining at the expense of human workers. A luddite reaction that does this in effect does nothing to stop the progress and development of robots, which is extensive and accellerating. From 1811 to 1813, the luddites fought many battles, and were a force that was countered by the British army. After two years they lost their war against the industrialization of the textile industry with 17 members sentenced to death, and many others exiled to the penal colony of Australia.