Coding broadens the mind… and our future

Robotics rises societal and ethics issues. Ok, let’s be frank, this topic is far from anecdotal. Will robots have to get an electronic identity ? Should countries monitor robotics activity ? What about taxing robots (meaning that we must give them an income, otherwise this is unfair) ?... Politics are just getting the job started around  these very questions. EU just put a first step in this gigantic enterprise. And, as robotics developers and entrepreneurs, we won’t say this is a vain labour. It has to happen, it has to be discussed, and we have to share, both private field and politics, about what we’re going to do with the relentless rise of robots in all the areas of our society.    

But in the meantime, we don’t have to forget how these technologies are promising and bring huge opportunities. It’s going to shift jobs and emphasize added value of the human worker. Strenuous and hard works, risky jobs or degrading activities could be kicked out of the list of job offers. And of course social understanding, empathy or persuasion techniques are going to become relevant differentiators. Surveys and articles from famous instutitions like Harvard already inforce this view. Robotics companies like ours didn’t wait this very « in the wind debate » to consider the importance of adopting rules and a code of conduct. Improve daily life of human is our first concern and still will be.

That said, we should really take time (and money of course) to build up a real politic of education and training plan in AI/Robotics. All around the world, but especially in USA, schools are trying to empower STEM learning for the young generations. After schools sessions, coding tournaments or local clubs are growing up and defend one simple idea : « you don’t have to wait high school, and most of the time we’re talking about expensive high schools and universities, to learn how to design and program a robot ».  You’d be surprised to see what we can teach in robotics simply using bricks of Lego. You’d be surprised too seeing the infinite skills and passion we can showcase in 9-14 years old kids’s hands.

We’re going to need both teachers and students  to follow the growth of AI and robotics in our society. If we’re able to understand how the job market will change tomorrow, we also have to catch up with disruptive companies in robotics developing a training programm. Why should we keep teaching millions of people how to perform a job that we all know will disapear ? Private companies have no monopoly on anticipation and technology foresight. Authorities, public politics, industry and entrepreneurs can step along that road side by side. In education and on-job training, we have to go further.

That’s why we’ve planned at Zora Bots to build up a robot academy in Europe (Oostende, BELGIUM). To gather under the same roof all the skills and support we may need tomorrow and already today to keep our economy powerfull and competitive.  We’ll soon have the opportunity to detail this project, but we have the inner kwowledge and the strong conviction that a part of the future depends of our capacity to align R&D and dissemination of knowledge.   
Zora and Pepper are applications based on the NAO and Pepper products of Softbank Robotics.