A Wearable Robot

As the saying goes, "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself," and it seems that you'll soon be able to get a lot more done using artificially intelligent, high-tech exoskeleton Kindred. It's the product of a startup created by quantum computing company D-Wave's founder Geordie Rose, and according to the venture capital firm funding Kindred, the device "uses AI-driven robotics so that one human worker can do the work of four."

Based on a patent application, the wearable system is envisioned as a 1.2-meter tall humanoid that may be covered with synthetic skin. It will include a head-mounted display and an exo-suit of sensors and actuators that carries out everyday tasks.

Essentially, it looks something like Spider-Man's Doctor Octopus on the outside, but on the inside, Kindred utilizes quantum computation, a way of information processing and storage that is much faster and more powerful than that used by conventional computers. Data "learned" by the suit can be taught to other robots, allowing those robots to then perform the tasks autonomously.

Image: U.S. Patent Application US20160243701A1 via Google Patents

Utopian or dystopian?

Robotics and artificial intelligence have already revolutionized the way we live and the way we work, and a study from Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi predicts that within 30 years machines will be capable of doing almost any job that a human can. But in addition to solving many of our problems, humanity's creations may pose a new one.

Drones that can handle hazardous materials are great as they eliminate the need for a person to enter a dangerous situation, but what business owner wouldn't be enticed by a multi-tasking, perfectly repetitive being that doesn't demand wage increases to bag groceries or assist retail customers?

With innovations like the above, we have the potential for a lot of unemployed low-skilled workers in the future. We must remember that the central purpose of technology is to improve lives and ask ourselves if devices like Kindred put us on the path to a better or worse future for humanity.

As Vardi says in his study, “I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?”

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