THE BLOG
11/14/2011 01:25 pm ET | Updated Jan 14, 2012

Honda's ASIMO Robot -- A Future Job Killer?

Honda has just released a new version of its ASIMO robot, which is now fully autonomous (as opposed to remote-controlled).

ASIMO can navigate complex environments along with people, recognize and distinguish faces and voices -- even when people are speaking simultaneously. And it can do a lot of other stuff.

Check out the two videos below:

Short Version

Longer Version showing many more capabilities:

As I wrote previously, a lot of people have jobs that are safe from automation not because they are especially advanced or creative, but because they involve skills such as dexterity and hand-eye coordination that are currently beyond the capability of machines. Things are changing. Fast.

And, as I noted here on the subject of personal robots:

The thing is that for a robot to autonomously run around the house doing a variety of tasks requires a very sophisticated level of technology. If that technology is developed and becomes affordable then it will certainly make its way into a variety of commercial applications--in fact, it may well be deployed there first.

It seems to me that if we have affordable personal robots that are actually capable of doing anything useful, then that technology implies that millions of jobs will be at risk in areas like:
  • stocking shelves in supermarkets and other retail stores
  • moving materials in stores and warehouses
  • providing security in a variety of settings

This is the second version of ASIMO. What will the 5th version look like? What about v. 10?

It's a good thing ASIMO only understands Japanese...

More details are here.

Martin Ford is the author of The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future (available from Amazon or as a PDF download). The book argues that accelerating information technology, and in particular robotics and artificial intelligence, is likely to have a disruptive impact on the future job market and economy. He also has a blog at econfuture.wordpress.com.