All posts by Lucy Ingham

Video: “Robots won’t replace human jobs”

The next wave of robotics to enter mass use will be service robots working autonomously with or for humans, according to Nick Hawes, senior lecturer in robotics at the University of Birmingham.

Speaking at last week’s AI & Robotics Innovation Forum in London, UK, Hawes outlined the benefits for service industries such as care, where simple tasks such as cleaning and monitoring could be undertaken by robots.

This would free up humans to perform more complex roles and give them more time to attend to the needs of their charges, something that would be very welcome in an industry that is under pressure from tight budgets and an ageing population.

For Hawes, roboticists need to consider in what markets existing robotics technology will have the biggest impact, so that they can develop technologies that can be used in real-world situations.

However, he highlighted the need to ensure the acceptability of robots in working environments: people must not see robots as replacing them, but more as helpers that do the most mundane tasks and free up people’s time with more complex and subjective work.

One the of biggest challenges in making mobile, autonomous robots is enabling them to safely and effectively respond to the wide range of environments and situations found in human spaces.

“I see enabling robust and reliable autonomy in human environments as a key enabler for mobile robots,” Hawes said.

In his talk at the forum, Hawes outlined the three ingredients needed in an autonomous system: perception, decision making and action.

Perception is the area that robotics has achieved the most in, with technologies such as Kinect making the jump to consumer use. However, decision making – how the robot decides on its next move – and action – how the robot affects the world around it – still have some way to go.


Hawes is currently working on a project with security megafirm G4S to create night watch robots.

Called STRANDS, the project aims to teach robots the normal patterns of daily life in an office environment to detect variations in behaviour that may indicate a security issue.

At present the trial robot, affectionately known as Bob, is being taught daily patterns by continual patrolling of set spaces at different times of the day.

Although Bob considerable work is being done to teach bob how to respond to environments that a human would have no problem with, he could lead to a robot that can spot security issues or behavioural shifts that a human might have missed.

Additional robot footage courtesy of IPA320 and fccysf.

The Internet in 2025: Experts Share their Thoughts

What will the internet be like in 2025? This was the question asked by the Pew Research Center in a survey in recognition of the internet turning 2025.

Here we share the answers of ten of the industry’s leading experts, including researchers, academics and programmers.

Marc Rotenberg

President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center


I hope there will be greater openness, more democratic participation, less centralized control, and greater freedom. But there is nothing predetermined about that outcome. Economic and political forces in the United States are pulling in the opposite direction.

So, we are left with a central challenge: will the Internet of 2025 be a network of freedom and opportunity or the infrastructure of social control? In the words of Thomas Edison, “What man creates with his hand, he should control with his head.”

Stowe Boyd

Lead researcher for GigaOM Research


The web will be the single most foundational aspect of people’s lives in 2025. People’s companion devices — the 2025 equivalent of today’s phones and tablets — will be the first thing they touch in the morning and the last thing they put down to sleep. In fact, some people will go so far as to have elements of their devices embedded. The AI-mediated, goggle-channeled social interactions of the near future will be as unlike what we are doing today, as today’s social web is to what came before.

John Markoff

Senior writer for the New York Times Science section


What happens the first time you answer the phone and hear from your mother or a close friend, but it’s actually not, and instead, it’s a piece of malware that is designed to social engineer you. What kind of a world will we have crossed over into? I basically began as an Internet utopian… but I have since realized that the technical and social forces that have been unleashed by the microprocessor hold out the potential of a very dystopian world that is also profoundly inegalitarian.

Jonathan Grudin

Principal researcher for Microsoft Research


The most significant impact of the Internet is that, by making so much activity visible, it exposes the gap between the way we think people behave, the way we think they ought to behave, the laws and regulations and policies and processes and conventions we have developed to guide behavior — and the way they really behave… Adjusting to this will be an unending, difficult task.

Vint Cerf

Google vice president and chief Internet evangelist


We may finally get to Internet voting, but only if we have really strong authentication methods available. Privacy must be improved but transparency about what information is retained about users also has to increase. More business will be born online with a global market from the beginning. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) will become important revenue streams.

Mike Liebhold

Senior researcher and distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future


The Internet is morphing from the global library into the global supercomputer. By 2025, almost every application or service we can imagine will be enhanced by the application of enormous computation enabling widespread applications of capabilities like mining, inference, recognition, sense-making, rendering modeling as well as proactive contextual computing.

Tiffany Shlain

Creator of the AOL series The Future Starts Here and founder of The Webby Awards


Access to the Internet will be a international human right. The diversity of perspectives from all different parts of the globe tackling some of our biggest problems will lead to breakthroughs we can’t imagine on issues such as poverty, inequality, and the environment.

Fred Baker

Internet pioneer and Cisco Systems Fellow


The issues in security and privacy will have been improved in important ways, but will remain threats, primarily because human nature will not have changed, and there is always a percentage of people who seek to harm others.

Paul Saffo

Managing director of Discern Analytics and consulting associate professor at Stanford


The pressures to balkanize the global Internet will continue and create new uncertainties. Governments will become more skilled at blocking access to unwelcome sites.

Seth Finkelstein

Prominent longtime programmer and consultant

When one combines Free Trade ideology with the ease of information flow, the entities which deal in data and content and associated items are going to need to have a set of agreements that work for the breadth of the Internet (assuming the world doesn’t fragment into isolated areas, which seems very unlikely in the modern economy).