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World of Robots

Oh, what a wonderful world!

[ 5 min read ]

Growing up, I used to watch a lot of two cartoon shows called ‘The Jetsons‘ and ‘The Flintstones’(Millennials reading – You’ll probably need to Google this; it’s way before your time) 

 

For the uninitiated, The Flintstones was set in the stone age, but the characters face modern conundrums; well as modern as things were in 1960s. On the other hand, The Jetsons was set in, what I can only call a futuristic Utopia world  of sorts, where technology and machines, quite literally, had a hand in everything.

 

The Jetsons had an all-in-one robot called Rosie who was pretty much the lifeline of the family. She did almost everything. Or so I thought. Until I recently caught a few episodes trying to see if my son would enjoy the cartoon. That’s when I realised that even Rosie, the robot maid who was meant to do everything, only did the non-trivial things. That’s because the Jetsons lived in what we today call a smart home. Quite literally a home that took care of all the trivial things at the push of a button. Okay, maybe a few.

 

Of course, all of this was envisaged to be the norm in the year the Jetsons were set in – 2062 to be precise, I think. We’re in 2017 now, and considering that we are already dreaming about vacations to the moon, I think we’re pretty much on track.

 

I believe it was Plato who once said that ‘Necessity is the mother of all inventions’. I sort of disagree. I think laziness is.

 

 

And while in India we fondly often call it jugaad, it is the art of invention as its very best. So unless we consider ‘laziness’ as a necessity, I think the quote is probably debatable 🙂

 

Today, we are busy building gadgets that will help us save time by automating the trivial processes. Gadgets that we call ‘labour-saving’ devices. They exist for the sole purpose of making our lives in this world a little less stress-free. From Artifical Intelligence software like Apple’s Siri with its smart quips to self-driving cars and trains. Why we even have houses that have been printed on a 3D printer. I just hope they don’t decide to 3D print humans to live in it.

 

Most of us are probably old enough to remember the first TVs in our houses. Ours was a Sony. It had 8 channels. And here’s something for you kids – it had no remote. Yes, no remote. So every time we had to change the channel, we had to walk up to the TV and press a physical button….oh, and each channel had a separate button. And not to mention, turning the volume up or down was another trying affair.

 

Today you could walk into your living room and the TV would automatically​ switch on, even greet you and maybe even select the channel that you’re thinking about. Okay, spy on you too, if the current US government is to be believed. Although if my TV did that, it would mostly find footage of us arguing about what to watch. Or maybe a lot of instances where we’re searching for the remotes.

 

In fact, soon we’ll all have robots effectively doing everything for us – from waking us up to even clothing us. I’m totally naming mine JARVIS though! Or maybe I should give it Scarlett Johansson’s voice from HER. Uff, too many choices!

 

We even have edible printed food these days. Remember how they used to write about pills that could give you an entire day’s energy? Probably not a thing of science fiction anymore. Even with wearable technology getting so popular (apparently it’s risen by 400-odd% in the past 5 years), your doctors (assuming they’re still human!) already know your basic stats before you even check into the hospital or clinic. So we’re getting there. [I know privacy of the data is a concern – but I’ll do another piece on that later]

 

Just to confess – I am absolutely not against technological advancements that help the world. In fact, I am an early adopter for most gadgets. Or rather, I would be if I had the money. [Which is probably why I don’t – damn vicious circle!] But sometimes I can’t help wonder if all the stuff that we’re inventing to make our lives easier, are also holding us hostage in some way. Like how we desperately hunt for a charger, when the battery indicator on your smartphones automatically activates the low-power mode. Or when the ‘check engine’ light in your car turns on. (Yes, Sheldon Cooper – we saw that!)

 

Of course, the plus side remains that for all this to happen, humans are still very much in demand. For we possess the power of perseverance and the out-of-the-box thinking ability to program these machines. The world is therefore still our oyster, so to speak. But once the machines learn to evolve and adapt, well, we won’t be left with much to do.

 

Except maybe sit and get old and die. Or worse, maybe we’ll just die of the boredom from not having to do anything strenuous. Or maybe, we’ll just freeze our bodies and auto-time it to wake up 10 years in the future in a world where perhaps we’re the minions instead of the machines being ours.

 

Of course, considering that we are still debating women’s rights and equality in 2017, people are dismissing Global Warming as just hocus-pocus, and some are still arguing about our rights to eat what we want – things that should have been sorted a long time back – I guess we’ll still have something to do. 

 

Maybe there will be an app for that.

On the other hand, we still have these – Enjoy the slideshow! 🙂

 

[GIFs courtesy : Giphy.com]

*jugaad – hack.

36 Responses to “Oh, what a wonderful world!

  • Sooulll brotheeer!!!!
    That very first line…Flintstones and Jetsons were my favorite TV shows too! And I haven’t yet met a single soul who loved them both. Most liked one or the other, since I guess they catered to different kind of audiences, or so they said. But I was equally fascinated by them both. I am so glad to have finally found in you, a cartoon-show-soul-brother (if such a thing exists, I am sure it doesn’t, but it should)!
    But then there is also Jarvis! That is what I have named by future-would-be robot too. (Okay, this line might sound ridiculous to many, but I am sure you totally get what I mean). In my mind Jarvis was sort of a robot-droid (inspired from the Lunar Chronicles series) and it was a he. (Yes, this is the kind of stuff I spend my time detailing, probably should do some actual chores instead).
    And finally, I think laziness is a necessity (or at-least that is what I would like to believe, so don’t break my bubble here), which is why, in a A loves B, B loves C, so A loves C way, laziness is the mother of invention! Simble. 🙂
    Shantala recently put up this awesome post : Quarterly Goals Update (Jan – Mar 2017)My Profile

    • Is this a good time to repeat ‘I told you so!’ ? 😉

      I too was fascinated by both – especially because they were so different, but yet had a sort of common theme.
      Jarvis – you too? 🙂
      And yes Robot-Droid from Lunar Chronicles made total sense to me – is that weird? 😛

  • I agree, it’s the laziness that must have resulted in all the inventions 😛 we have already made our lives a little too easy, plus we are so heavily dependent on gadgets that if the gps doesn’t work, probably we won;t even find our way back home 😛
    Rajlakshmi recently put up this awesome post : Yogasana: The Fallen Angel #atozchallengeMy Profile

    • I would constantly get lost without a GPS. But that’s also partly because in India, nobody ever gives the right directions. Everything is two-kms away, or 10 mins away. And you end up back where you started 😛
      Of course, I digress

  • I don’t think we have to look far to see what the gadget revolution has done. Look at our kids. S refuses to play, looks to do things the easy way, and would be addicted to the ipad (if I let him that is, ipad is permanently discharged these days). I know some people will call him smart and he is purely lazy. I don’t know if machines are going to be our masters but if we don’t use technology repsonsibly we are definitely going to be their slaves.

    That being said I love my gadgets and tech too. I really don’t know if we can reconcile our laziness and need for gadgets with the need to be active, healthy and human. It seems like one or the other to me. The advent of gadgets is inevitable…We need to learn to be more responsible about them.

    PS: sorry for the longish comment
    Jaibala Rao recently put up this awesome post : Movies THat Shaped Our Generation – Done To Death TropesMy Profile

    • Thank you, Jaibala, for the ‘longish’ comment 🙂
      I think as you said, there needs to exist a fine balance between the two.

  • I’m still at the stage when technology constantly puzzles, amazes and thrills me. Still not evolved enough to see it’s dangers and drawbacks except in films. I think humans will be reaching out to self – actualisation leaving everything else to robots. Or who knows we might head towards minimalisation and begin to get rid of technology and the whole cycle will start over. Fascinating read Sid. As always.

    • I think we all are – but sometimes (mostly fuelled by boredom) I get inquisitive and curious about the world of the future.
      Thanks, Tulika – I was a bit worried about penning this piece – doesn’t quite sit within the categories that I write on

  • Thinking that all technologies have stolen our power, time and heart. Excellent peice of writing, indeed !!!
    Vasantha Vivek recently put up this awesome post : So Much To Be Grateful For….. #GratitudeCircleBlogHopMy Profile

  • The minions line is hilarious and eye opening at the same time. And so is this entire post. You’ve criticised and praised this technological revolution we are currently in brilliantly! Get ready for a really long comment (which will make absolutely no sense at all)
    There’s no denying that there will be a day when machines become our masters. And honestly, I doubt there would be any regret! Simple example: People are already open to having a personal assistant for the entire home. A century ago, everyone would have been shocked by someone shirking their household responsibilities. But now? People welcome it with open arms.
    As you rightly pointed out, we humans may have nothing to do but sleep and laze around once machines start getting smarter than us. But I’d look at it from another perspective: what if it gave us more time to do what we really want to do? Like, write a book. Read many books. Focus on other important stuff instead of worrying about whether the food is cooked / mobile is charged / AC cold enough, etc. What if we discover something new by then, and what if our pursuit for machines gets dissolved, and something new takes its place? Like, exploring space? The future is indeed unpredictable.
    While my thoughts may seem like the ‘entitled- millenial’ type, I’d like to think I am predicting the future. Or at least Ray Bradbury is encouraging me to! 😛

    • Oh boy! A comment post on a post – that’s what I write for 😉
      Actually your thoughts do make a lot of sense; of course it surprises me because it comes from an 18yo who has the maturity of someone who is worldly wise.
      Also, you are an exception to the entitled millennial types 😉

  • Have you watched the movie Idiocracy? Sometimes, I fear that’s what the future will become. Especially given how things are currently across the globe. Onto your post, I do understand the need for technological advances but I certainly hope we don’t lose our abilities. How many people remember a phone number there days? Or a birthday? Or how to get to a place? If we don’t use our skills (working memory, visual-spatial processing etc), we will eventually lose it. Technology is a boon but it is also a problem in some ways. That being said, I’d love for a robot to clean my house!
    Sanchie @ Living my Imperfect Life recently put up this awesome post : Get curious in AprilMy Profile

    • No, I haven’t. I’ll add it to my list.
      Oh, all our memories are pretty ‘digital’ now; in fact, I sometimes wonder when or where I took a certain photo. I guess that’s where everything is headed.
      This ‘house cleaning robot’ seems to be a pretty popular choice. 😉

  • Being a lazy person myself, I’m obviously very pro-gadgets. But given all the knowledge I’ve gathered from reading dystopian sci-fi, I have to say machines taking over might be a very real possibility. The simplest way to think about it, how we used to memorize things earlier, but now we don’t bother cos we can always look it up online if need be. So, it’s not just that we may end up bored without our gadgets, but also rather dull. And when you become dull, the machines take over *sinister music*

    Flintstones was one of my favourites <3 I'd still watch it if I get a chance
    Sreesha recently put up this awesome post : Epiphany | #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

    • I think we all have our bouts of laziness. Which is what makes us very pro-gadgets in the first place.
      And yes, the possibility of an i-Robot kind of world is very real.
      *sinister music fades* 😛

  • I think everything new that that comes up to make our life easy actually makes us lazy and a slave to it. It really is sad. Forget Flintstones and Jetsons, I don’t think our children will even be able to see trees or birds unless until as a old frayed picture. The pace at which humans are working on technology, nature will soon die a slow death.

    Also this – I shall not be impressed with technology until I can download food.
    Soumya recently put up this awesome post : D: Danielle Steel #AToZChallengeMy Profile

    • Digital picture, you mean 😉 Frayed pictures are so old-school 😛
      Nature is dying a slow death already – we’re already living in a 3D world 🙂

  • My worry is that all these automations and AIs, while they’re much required and definitely a good thing in the sense that they show our prowess, show our advancements, help reduce time and effort – but I also think they will end up creating a civilizations of monkeys. Not chimps. Those think. These will blindly turn on. Or off. And be done. Our intellectual capacity will be at stake. We do not stop to think how something is supposed to be done. Or we will longer stop to question. Be it question the need, or the how, or think of improvements. It’s like a robot fixing a flat tyre. Someday if the robot were to not be charged, I would have no idea how to do it myself. And that’s a scary way to be.

    • To be honest, I think we’re already on that path, Deepa. At least, we were, until we started to take notice of it. And I suppose like most things that involve ‘addiction’, the key is to realise that someone has it.
      The world can be a scary place going forward – but it isn’t that less scary now either. I suppose, the key is to ensure that while we have technology for most things, it’s always better for us to keep a few things in our hands 🙂
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Oh, what a wonderful world!My Profile

  • We seem to have forgotten the fine art of being bored. The other when my niece was denied TV time, she created a hissy fit and announced how much she hated feeling bored. It’s boredom that gives way to creativity, fascinating make-believe worlds that a child’s mind conjures.

    And we are no different.

    With gadgets making our lives simpler, we are finding ways to make it complicated with our fascination for the digital world.

    • Ha! Fine art of being bored – excellently put, Purba.
      [Oh, yes! I’ve been through those hissy fits.]
      Sadly, we are no different either. Just switch off the Internet modem and watch the world burn.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Oh, what a wonderful world!My Profile

  • A colleague said that writing by hand will be the next skill to go obsolete… and this is what worries me. Our future is probably going to take away the simple pleasures of doing things with our own hands…

  • Well, recently I told my children that our TV had only 2 channels and there was no remote. They were ok with the 2 channels thing, but life without a remote is incomprehensible. They were shocked. But, then the world is moving faster than anything. Technology is obsolete by the time we get it home. All I want is a robot to do all my chores and and automatic laundry machine which can find the matching socks and sew in the lost buttons. I loved Jetsons.

    • Haha! I bet you loved the expression on their faces when you told them about the ‘no remote’ thing 🙂
      Another Jetons fan – yay! And the matching socks robot – absolutely!
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Oh, what a wonderful world!My Profile

  • I suggest you watch the movie Surrogates. Its a boring movie but scarily inching closer to our reality. I think our over dependence on gadgets to simplify our lives is going to bring down the roof on us. All new technology is increasing our demand for electricity which we are consuming more than ever. I fully agree that technology needs to be explored but we have to keep connected with a probability of living without them in the days to come when someone throws a switch or creates a virus that shuts all technology. I do find one thing really interesting as technology develops, the simplicity in the design function is increasingly beautiful and user friendly but what is truly harrowing is setting up any gadget or technology for first use and adaptability thereafter.

    • I think I may have watched it. Or rather, fast-forwarded-watched it. But yes, I get your point though; and yes, technology does come with its complexities (and side effects!)

  • Who knows what tomorow holds? I still remember waking up several times to switch on the AC a few years ago. Today, I’m looking for ceiling fan with a remote! Also, many a times we complicate things in our attempts to simplify.

    • Haha! I agree – in the process to simplify, we complicate things 🙂
      Ceiling fan with a remote, huh? I’m sure there are ‘voice activated’ ones too 🙂

  • I hope we never depend wholly on machines. I shudder at the thought. Creativity will be at an all time low and we’d be raising a generation of kids who’d know how to press buttons for what they need. Although it would be nice to have a robot cook, personally. I’d just input all the data and have food ready in a trice. Ah well, a gal can dream.

    • For our sakes (and future generations!), I hope we never quite reach that point either. As for kids who know how to press buttons – most of the new generation kids are born with this sense of entitlement and want everything ‘delivered’. Of course, nothing that a some good parenting (and a nice smack on the bum!) can’t solve.
      Robot cook – quite a possibility, Shy!

  • This is a * scary * possibility, isn’t it. I wonder how I’ll handle it though, or would my clone do that for me?
    :))))
    Mayuri

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