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Robotics is a branch of technology that deals in the study, design, construction and application of robots. The exact definition of robots can vary from person to person, though they typically refer to a form of autonomous humanoid or to machines and computers capable of independent sensory/information processing and feedback. Neither are mutually exclusive.
Robotics development has often been theorized to have ideal applications in both the global military and industrial complex, along with any other practical use that could make certain jobs safer for humans. Future robotics is believed to also be moving towards more leisurely, day-to-day activities such as housekeeping.
Robot City in South Korea
South Korea has been at the forefront of robotic evolution since at least 2003 when the country added robotics to its list of main national R&D projects, and the government has even announced a national goal to have a robot in every household in South Korea by 2020. In 2009, the South Korean government publicly announced its plans to have a robot theme park built by 2012, which had actually been in the works by Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Energy since as early as 2007. Though the project was met with an initial lack of success due to a series of environmental concerns, the project is now back on track and is slated for a partial opening in 2016 and is hoped to be fully completed by 2018. The project has cost a grand total of $660 million, and although the attractions will include theme park rides and the like, it will also include a graduate school for robotics and a dedicated R&D lab. The entire complex will cover 387,505 square meters and will be located in Incheon, approximately 30 km from Seoul.
Of Issues and Ethics
1. A major concern for future generations with regards to an increasingly mechanized job market is the concept of technological unemployment, which has been a steadily increasing issue since the Industrial Revolution. The increasing wave of robotic evolution raises concerns that menial, arduous and high-risk jobs will be in shorter supply.
2. Should the advancement of robotics ever lead to the creation of true artificial intelligence, there will be a number of issues to consider, many of which are common tropes in science-fiction. Some fear the accidental creation of a world conquering master race. Others fear we will inadvertently legalize a form of slavery by creating what would be, for all intents and purposes, a race of slaves. Research commissioned by the UK Office of Science and Innovation’s Horizon Scanning Center has determined that in 50 years robots could be demanding human rights.