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First Draft EIP

First Draft EIP

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Published by Michele Belue
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First draft

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Published by: Michele Belue on Dec 04, 2012
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Belue 1Michele BelueInstructor: Malcolm CampbellEnglish 1103November 6, 2012
Will Robots Ever Replace Humans?
Robot. What is the first image that comes to mind? A cosmic machine that builds cars?R2D2 or C-P3O from the infamous
Star Wars
film series? Or maybe Sonny, the realistichumanoid robot that is featured in the movie
 I, Robot 
?
Whether we like it or not, “robot” is a
term that everyone is familiar with in our generation. Robots have been slowly integrated intoour media, entertainment, and daily lives, beginning in our childhood. Movies like
The IronGiant,
 
 Robots
,
The Incredibles
,
Wall-E 
, and
 Meet The Robinsons
and TV shows including
The Jetsons
,
 Little Robots,
and
 Astroboy
all involve robotic characters who naturally interact withhumans and are targeted toward young children. The majority of these characters are personifiedas friendly, smart, harmless, and beneficial to society. As we get older, our interests inentertainment shift to a more mature genre.
The Terminator 
,
 I, Robot 
,
Star Wars
,
Robocop
,
 
and
Transformers
are examples of futuristic films that depict robots as extremely intelligent, human-like, and sometimes threating to our society. These conflicting portrayals of robots existing insociety just as humans do cause mixed feelings, huge controversies, and many questions. Whenwill robots begin to appear in our world? What will they look like? Will these robots bebeneficial or detrimental to society? Could these robots potentially replace humans? To answerthe first question, they are already here.In the past few years, our world of technology has rapidly evolved. In particular, ourmethods of communication have changed tremendously. Pagers, what the heck are those?
 
Belue 2Writing letters the old fashioned way? Forget it. Our generation is all about shooting quick e-mails and texts or networking with friends on websites like Facebook and Twitter. Smart phonesare designed to help people interact quickly with others while multitasking so they do not miss abeat. It is impossible to walk down a street and not see at least one businessman, teenage girl, orregular Joe glued to their smart phone. IPhones, especially, have taken over the cell phoneindustry, as well as our lives. In 2011, Apple Inc. launched the iPhone 4S. As if the previousiPhone 4 was not already capable of virtually anything and everything, this improved devicecame with an intelligent personal assistant named Siri. Anyone familiar with this applicationknows
that it, or should I say “she,”
can tell you anything you need to know. Siri is designed tolearn the language and voice of the iPhone owner, listen to his request, and quickly respond. If your request is to find the current score of a football game, what the weather will be like inBoston tomorrow, or what you have scheduled in your calendar that day, just ask Siri. You caneven command her to call you by a certain name. Dictionary.com stats that the term robot is
defined as “
any machine or mechanical device that operates automatical
ly with humanlike skill.”
Siri can listen, think, and talk just as humans do. Whether you want to come to the realization ornot, millions of iPhone owners around the world have little robots tucked in their pockets.Since our generation typically pictures robots to be 5 feet tall with two arms, two legs, atorso, and a face, viewing Siri as a robot might be a stretch. However, Rodney Brooks, co-founder of the company iRobot, who created the Roomba vacuuming robot, and founder of hiscompany Rethink Robots, has been working on building a robot similar to the ones imagined bymost people.
According to “
The
Rise of the Robotic Work Force,”
an article written by DavidH. Freedman, this humanoid robot, with a physical appearance strongly resembling that of ahuman, goes by the name Baxter. Unlike other ginormous, bulky robots that are designed to do
 
Belue 3labor for manufacturing companies
, Baxter is “powerful, cheap, versatile, and easy
-to-set-
up”
(Freedman). This friendly helper has two arms with fingerlike grippers at the end of each one, atorso, and a head consisting of a computer screen that displays a line drawing of a face. Thisscreen-based face goes through a range of emotions, such as asleep, neutral, concentrating,focused, surprised, confused, and sad. If Baxter is calmly working
, its “face” shows the focused
expression. If someone suddenly approaches, the eyes open in surprise. Baxter was designed towork right alongside employees, so, as a safety feature, sensors were placed throughout its bodyto detect when an employee is approaching. If someone gets too close to Baxter, he willautomatically stop performing his task and shut off. While most robots are programmed to
 perform one simple, repetitive task, Baxter is capable of being “taught” multiple tasks just ashumans do, learning each in just minutes. Baxter’s arms were intended to be guidable by hand.
This design allows
the robot to learn a task’s motion with the help of a human, spot the object,“feel” its way through gripping a
nd maneuvering the object, and repeat the motion slightlydifferent each time until it has mastered the technique. So, here we have a robot that looks like ahuman, learns and performs tasks efficiently and possibly better than a human, and is safe towork alongside humans. Is it safe to say this robot can think like a human, too? After all, that isa main goal humanoid robotics engineers are trying to achieve.
In addition, Brooks says, “Baxter 
can be taken out of the box, set up, trained, and put to work in about one hour. At $22,000each
 — 
less than the price of a minivan
 — 
it could easily pay for itself in months, saving acompany $30,000 a year or more in labor costs per robot
(Freedman). This game-changingrobot for manufacturing companies is the definition of a dream employee.
But could one man’sdream be another man’s nightmare? If Brook’s ambitious plan for Baxter is carried out as he
hopes, these robots will replace humans in millions of jobs in the U.S. alone. Implementing

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