Robots are already lending hand around the house, figuratively speaking. Someone cleans the charcoal from a barbecue, someone can mow your yard, wash windows or clean the pool. Amazon’s Astro follows owners from room to room with their favorite music, delivers snacks to kids down the hallway, serves as a home security patrol when you’re away, provides peace of mind when you want to check on a loved one. , and much more.
But I predict that in 2023 robots will evolve to play a more human role. They will develop the ability to talk, entertain and even befriend their owners by engaging in natural conversation and becoming an integral part of the home.
People already tend to interact with technology as if it were a person. We give names to robots; we talk about gadgets and apps when we know perfectly well that they won’t answer. Even when technology is not intended for humans, integrating its capabilities into our lives makes us treat it like a different being. The barrier to normal ongoing interaction between humans and machines has always been a function of the machine’s ability to realistically involve us. But this barrier is slowly but surely being destroyed.
Until recently, talking to a robot was relatively easy. True communication requires understanding the intricacies of language and social context. However, now, thanks to huge advances in artificial intelligence through machine learning, where computers process and analyze billions of pages of text, dialogue, and arguments, or years of audio recordings in a matter of minutes, machines have sharpened their sense of connotation and meaning to the human level.
Add to that advances in speech-to-text and natural language processing—the ability of a machine to listen and understand—and you have the input and output of conversation: the machine’s ears and the voice box. Now, for example, some language engines can generate answers to questions that are indistinguishable from the answer you would get from a human. As these capabilities expand to home robots, people will see how robots become companions who, like a loyal assistant, can provide emotional support or advice – in addition to their functional support. Such emotional integration may seem far-fetched, but there is a charming charm to a machine that generates responses based solely on facts.
As with other massive technology shifts like flat-screen TVs and smartphones, early adopters will pay more for a first glimpse into the future. Devices will still have many flaws, but early adopter feedback and testing will provide a roadmap for product functionality and how best to keep costs down. Just as early space travelers sparked public interest in a future where consumer space travel becomes the norm, I predict that 2023 consumers will pave the way for an expanding territory in domestic humanoid robotics. And one day, in the not-too-distant future, as technology advances and prices become more affordable, robots may indeed be useful and delightful household companions.