"Will the coming robot nanny era turn us into technophiles?"
Mid-way through London Tech Week, we wanted to share a quick thought on a piece that ran in TechCrunch back in October, about the role that tech - and more specifically, robots - will play in the future of Childcare. “Robot nannies will replace real nannies like the automobile replaced the horse and cart,” Zoltan Istvan, the author of this interesting article (which you can find here), proposed. "Nanny robots will be one of the next commonplace items we have in our homes [and they will] play an integral part of the next generation’s upbringing."
While there's no denying that this increasingly seems like the path forward, we say thanks - but no thanks.
Don’t get us wrong, we want to see the tech sector thrive - that goes without saying. New technologies have tremendous implications on our everyday lives - they redesign our economies, our societies, our culture. They generally improve how we live, and sometimes, how we work. (As we know, that’s not always the case - especially when tech-driven business models increasingly stretch the limits of employment rules and do so at the expense of workers. Stay tuned, that’s what Hively is out to solve when we go live this Summer).
So yes, we see how tech - in this more specific case, robotics - may come to play a central role in providing a certain brand of "personalised" care in our homes in a not so distant future. But at present, science is still a long way away from designing a robot pal with the kind of bubbly disposition as that of Rosie, the robot maid to the Jetsons. From conferring wise advice to providing comic relief, Rosie felt, acted and interacted like a true member of this goofy and iconic space-age family.
The real-life versions won't stand a candle to little old Rosie, and frankly... do we want, or even need them to? At some point, the answer to these questions will likely be met with resounding "yeses," just as we've now turned towards driverless cars (which even a few years ago seemed inconceivable). So yes, perhaps that at that stage, society may consider it commonplace for young children to interact with a robotic authority.
Until then… let's enjoy the present.