We have to go back for more than five hundred years in order to understand robotics. Leonardo da Vinci made a few mechanical machines during his life, which imitated the movements of animals. These machines are used as toys in the French castles. Later, many scientists have tried to address this, but without much success. Until the advent of computers in the 20th century, robots (the name originated from the Slavic word rabota - work) had absolutely no functional purpose and were purely mechanical. Only the development of computer programming and coding, created an idea that other machines besides the computer can produce some form of functional activities by properly entering the correct code and programs.
That is how the concepts of artificial intelligence and machine learning were created. Artificial intelligence is actually the ability of non-living systems to cope with new situations. When we add learning from experience, which is improved by the constant repetition of tasks and measuring the performance (machine learning), then we get almost autonomous inanimate system. This is something we are trying to increasingly implement in robotics and in the automotive industry, especially in the production process, but also the production of self-driving cars.
The fourth industrial revolution
After several decades of development, today's robots are the vanguards of the fourth industrial revolution. They're doing households, manage home installations and appliances, are connected to smart phones, provide information on railway stations, airports and tourist areas, assemble and paint almost all types of vehicles, digest, delivered packages and who knows what else. And they are almost completely autonomous. After the introduction of software with the correct codes which indicate the activities that they have carried out, the robots do not stop working until they break down or until a new input is entered. These are the only two operations in which they are dependent on human intelligence to some extent. Therefore, the fear of the robotic takeover somewhat justified, but still far from real. There is a much greater motivation to develop fear of robotic capabilities.
The production processes are a major concern among the human population. In fact, more and more robots are implemented in production, and a growing number of companies decide on such a move. This automatically means fewer jobs for people. It is estimated that by 2022 7 million people will lose their jobs because of robots. When we consider that robots are saving financial resources of employers significantly, and work faster and more efficiently than people, we can say that people are threatened in their right to work.
Moreover, their production is also growing up, due to the increasing number of purposes that they can perform, but also because of the demand. China is the world's largest manufacturer of robots and their industry is increasingly based on robots. For example, in one of their shipyards are four welding robots. Only one of them can weld up to 5 times more steel than a man in 8 hours, and it's much more accurate and safer. The most wanted are the robots which do dangerous jobs, such as deactivation of explosive devices, rescue and other, which is on the one hand good for human health, but not for their existence.
What about labor rights?
But, what will happen when people lose their jobs? Except they will not have any financial income, they'll be mentally devastated by the fact that they were replaced by a machine. Therefore, consequently, frequent protests and riots may happen. Of course, there are an organized system of financial aid to the unemployed in many countries, but they're filled through taxes coolected from other citizens, and they often can not meet even the basic needs of individuals.
Almost a month ago leaders from politics and business have met at the World Economic Forum in Davos. They discussed about the future employment of robots. There are detected great social changes that fourth industrial revolution can cause, but also the growing dissatisfaction of the citizens, especially due to the slow recovery of the economy after the financial crisis.
Therefore, there is an initiative within the EU for a firm legal framework that spawn changes in the social security system and facilitate the payment of a basic income to the unemployed (as it already Finland does). For laymans, it seems like another form of social aid, but it's still not the same to receive unemployment benefits and the minimum wage, especially in countries where it is reflected in the financial difference between the two.
Of course, there are many factors that influence the fear of robots of the world, such as the possible shortcomings of Asimov's Three Laws of Robot Ethics, or taking over some basic needs, such as preparing food or sex. Anyway, entrepreneurs and political structures at the local and global level should think carefully what to do with the millions of unemployed before the fully automation of production systems.