For now, industry must produce robots that know their roles – humans won’t accept machines that bark out orders or cut in line.
At present, robots need humans. Their integration into society depends on acceptance.
The buck stops at the consumer, who watches shows like “Westworld” where sophisticated robots manipulate humans to advance their faculties and achieve sentience. So, when a robot engages a newbie, it should be prepared to navigate a minefield of subconscious fears rooted in popular culture.
That’s why industry should emphasize the likeability of its robots when engaging the public.
Collaborative robots – or “cobots” – are a viral video shy of mass rejection. Currently, humanity is master, and in 2018 it believes it can acquire anything with the right keyword combination or mobile phone application.
The first wave of commercial robots must succumb to today’s information environment and serve as data collectors that augment online queries. It’s a role that requires strict adherence to a narrow baseline of cultural norms. Whether the collection entails physical or virtual data – or both – robots must tread lightly to ensure that their signatures are non-offensive.
Adding sensitivity to the eggshells commercial robots must walk, happiness is relative. Consumers are obsessed with attaining the “perfect” experience; if robots misguide that pursuit, they’ll be rendered useless.
As such, it’s critical that robots behave subserviently in their infancy. Being docile, loyal, humble, and somewhat infantile seems degrading, but it will alleviate robots of liability when crisis strikes.
Subservience will also bridge the gap between assimilation and integration. Robots will diligently and dutifully retrieve data for their owners; once that information proves pivotal, they’ll assume an advisory role.
Pet names for cobots will evolve from “stupid thing” to “buddy” to “Mr. Robot.”
But until that time, what’s needed most from industry is a message that encapsulates all of this for the public.
Stop branding robots with indecipherable, semantically-trendy names that scream individuality.
The public isn’t ready for artificial genius; it’s likely scared of it. It’s ready for a competent robot servant. #humies