All you really have to know is Google has been dedicating a large portion of their resources to Robotics to conclude that Robotics are certain to be a major, fundamental part of our future–in one form or another. I qualify that statement because it’s not clear exactly why Google is so interested in Robotics as a dedicated entry in their famously diverse business portfolio. It’s not even clear what aspect of Robotics Google finds so interesting or compelling or potentially profitable. In fact, Google’s secrecy regarding the matter emerges as an equally interesting part of the Robotics story as the logistics of the industry’s possible future.
So here’s what we do know: By March 2014, Google had purchased a half-dozen robotics companies in a little under a year. However, when NPR interviewed the director of the robotics program at Menlo Park, CA based SRI International, a technology nonprofit, who had also served on the board of one of the 6 robotics companies Google bought, he cited a nondisclosure agreement he had to agree to and sign at Google’s insistence. Further, NPR reported that they could not locate a single contact within the robotics industry who would disclose anything, whether small or substantial, about Google’s interest. All of them either directly cited the same kind of nondisclosure agreement, or inferred it.
Thus, speculation and theories abound regarding the future of Robotics and run the gamut from the sinister to the banal, from Google’s possible integration of the latest advances in Artificial Intelligence allowing fully autonomous robots to something as mundane as their belief in the usefulness of widespread factory robotics. The small section of the industry outside of Google’s reach (for now, that is) may point towards where Google is headed. First, robots are simply becoming cheaper to build and thus more affordable for companies to acquire and utilize. Second, with the huge leaps in software development in recent years, we see the delivery drones that Amazon has implied are the future of their distribution utilize advances in smartphone technology–such as increased GPS and voice command accuracy. Combine these two facts with the growing availability of freeware robotics software–much of it developed by feeding massive amounts of data into databases to create software that recognizes patterns (and thus allow, for example, a robot to recognize what type of outlet to plug itself into) and some compelling connections emerge.
Consider the fact that Google teaches its groundbreaking search engine to get better and better at personalized results and get increasingly better in detecting and ordering results based on relevance and trends by a very similar process of continually uploading huge amounts of data in order to create pattern recognition and more concrete connections begin to emerge. That said, the public will always know exactly what Google intends it to know and whether you believe that portends a Matrix-esque dystopia or means nothing more than an intelligently competitive company is hiding its secrets well, only time will tell.
Please welcome Eric Sheffield, Writer & Reporter to YBLTV. Learn more about him and the rest of the YBLTV Team.