In the coming decades robots and artificial intelligence will fundamentally change our world. In doing so they offer the hope of a golden future, one where the elderly are looked after by companion robots, where the disabled can walk, robot security protects us all, remote rural areas have access to the best urban facilities and there is almost limitless prosperity. But there are dangers. There are fears in the labour market that robots will replace jobs, leaving many unemployed, and increase inequality. In relying too much on robots, people may reduce their human contact and see their cognitive abilities decline. There are even concerns, reflected in many science fiction films, that robots may eventually become competitors with humans for survival.
This book looks at both the history of robots, in science and in fiction, as well as the science behind robots. Specific chapters analyse the impact of robots on the labour market, people’s attitudes to robots, the impact of robots on society, and the appropriate policies to pursue to prepare our world for the robot revolution. Overall the book strikes a cautionary tone. Robots will change our world dramatically and they will also change human beings.
These important issues are examined from the perspective of an economist, but the book is intended to appeal to a wider audience in the social sciences and beyond.