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What is the present and future of robots and AI (artificial intelligence)?

What is the present and future of robots and AI (artificial intelligence)?


What is the present and future of robots and AI (artificial intelligence)?

This time, we will summarize the current state of robots and AI (artificial intelligence), and explain the possibilities and risks in the future. In addition to collecting objective information, you will be able to feel the progress of technology with your body by actually using robots and AI little by little in your business and private life.

Market size of robots and AI

Since the first half of the 2010s, some of you may have felt that the opportunities for mentioning robots and AI in online articles and news have increased.

In fact, it is reported that the Ministry of Defense will introduce AI as a defense against cyber attacks in 2018.
Robots and AI have become so-called buzzwords (words that are vaguely defined, but are used as authoritative technical terms and eye-catching catchphrases among people in a specific era or field), but the objective market What is the scale?

According to the "Robot Industry Market Trend Survey Results" released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 2013, the global market for industrial robots increased by about 60% in the five years to 2012. The current market size, including manufacturing and non-manufacturing fields, is estimated to be approximately 860 billion yen as of 2010.

The future growth speed is also remarkable, and it is predicted to reach approximately 5.3 trillion yen in 2025 and approximately 9.7 trillion yen in 2035. In particular, the growth in the service sector is expected to be remarkable.

On the other hand, regarding the size of the AI ​​market, the domestic cognitive / AI system market forecast surveyed by the research company IDC Japan can be used as a reference.

IDC Japan estimates that the size of the domestic cognitive/AI system market in 2016 was approximately 15.9 billion yen based on user spending. Like the robot market, the future growth rate is expected to be high.

The average annual growth rate from 2016 to 2021 is 73.6%, and the market size in 2021 will exceed 250 billion yen. Neither robots nor AI are currently on a very large scale.

However, it can be seen that the future growth rate is expected to be very promising. It can be said that every industry is at a stage where they should keep in mind how it can be used in their own business.

Can AI Help? Basic knowledge for connecting AI to business

Robots already in practical use: aibo, Pepper...

Robots and AI were once confined to science fiction. However, there are robots and AI that have already been partially put into practical use.

Especially when it comes to robots that have been commercialized for general consumers, aibo and Pepper are well known.

aibo is a pet robot released by SONY since 1999. It walks on four legs and features movements that mimic the movements of dogs, and is enthusiastically received by some enthusiasts. Although the first model was priced at over 250,000 yen, it was so popular that orders for the limited 3,000 units were discontinued in just 20 minutes after its launch in 1999.

After that, in 2004, SONY announced its withdrawal from the robot business and stopped manufacturing aibo, but in 2016 it announced that it would enter the business again. AI technology such as face recognition has been introduced into the new aibo. Significant improvements have been made, such as a form closer to a dog. The price is 198,000 yen (excluding tax) as of January 2018.

Pepper, on the other hand, is a robot that SoftBank has been selling since 2014. Equipped with emotion function and cloud AI, it is characterized by changing emotions according to communication with people and surrounding situations.

As the variety of communication increases, it is used for playing with children and interacting with the elderly. The main unit price is 198,000 yen, and a basic plan of 14,800 yen x 36 months and an insurance pack of 9,800 yen x 36 months (both excluding tax) are required.

Both aibo and Pepper are robots equipped with AI. AI learns human facial expressions and communication, making it possible to enjoy complex movements and conversations. You can see that the use of robots and AI is progressing not only in business but also in private situations.

The Future of Robots Opened by AI


Like aibo and Pepper, it is becoming commonplace for robots to be equipped with AI. Here, we will introduce three types of RPA in business, industrial robots, and service robots as the functions and utilization methods realized by this.

What is RPA
RPA is an abbreviation for Robotic Process Automation. It mainly refers to software robots that automate the work that has been done by white-collar workers, such as data entry and checking.

Examples include credit administration and fund collection support for banks, and asset management services. RPA will spread from routine work, and the goal is to apply it to non-routine work in the future.

According to the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group's announcement in November 2017, approximately 200 tasks were automated using RPA, reducing the workload by 400,000 hours.

What is an industrial robot?
The next industrial robot is a robot mainly responsible for assembling and transporting products in the manufacturing industry. This has a long history, and in 1954, the first industrial robot patent was filed in the United States.

In Japan, domestic production of industrial robots began in 1968 during the period of high economic growth, and in the 1970s robots were introduced in various industries such as automobiles, plastics, and electronic/electrical machinery. As of 2018, it can be said that this is the field where robots have spread the most.

What is a service robot?
Finally, service robots are robots used in various service industries such as rescue, security, and home use. Both aibo and Pepper are classified as service robots.

According to the results of the "Robot Industry Market Trend Survey" that I introduced earlier, the growth in the field of service robots is considered to be particularly large. As of 2010, the market size is smaller than that of industrial robots, but it is expected to grow to the 5 trillion yen level by 2035.

The future that robots and AI will change Part 1: Will human employment be taken away?

Robots and AI will not only improve the manufacturing industry, which is not familiar to general consumers, but also clerical work in offices, various service industries, and even enter the home. Some people may think,

In fact, while robots and AI have become buzzwords, there is also a critical debate that ``human employment will be taken away.''

In particular, the 2013 paper “THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION?” by Michael Osborne, an associate professor at Oxford University, co-authored with researcher Carl Benedikt Fry, became a global controversy. developed.

Osborne argued that about 47% of the jobs of American employers will be automated in the next 10 to 20 years. In particular, many jobs such as bank loan officers, cashiers, and accounting clerks have a 90% or more chance of being replaced by AI and computers.

This paper was received with impact because it embodied people's vague anxieties about robots, AI, and computers.

On the other hand, however, there are many voices of doubts about the analysis results. According to the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), an independent administrative agency, Osborne's estimates are extreme and "just show the technical possibilities."

For example, it seems to assume that even if self-driving technology is developed in the laboratory, all drivers in the world will be 100% replaced by machines.

In this way, the argument that "AI will take away jobs" is shocking, but as a business person, it is necessary to calmly assess the actual situation. In particular, there is a risk of misjudgement of the impact on business unless the progress of technology and the level of practical use are specifically observed.

The Future Changed by Robots and AI Part 2: What Will Happen to the Singularity?

As a keyword related to the future of robots and AI, there is something called "Singularity".

The singularity is a concept named by Ray Kurzweil, an authority on AI research, in his 2005 book.

In Japanese, it is called a “technological singularity”, and it refers to the birth of AI that can create AI, and the emergence of AI that theoretically has infinitely improved capabilities, which will fundamentally change humans and society.

Already, it is becoming clear that AI is surpassing humans in specific intellectual fields such as shogi and go. When AI emerges that surpasses human intellectual ability in general, not just in specific fields, the very nature of human beings may be questioned from the ground up.

It is not easy to anticipate the changes that will occur in the Singularity, but while there are those who believe that it will lead to the resolution of social problems such as hunger and poverty, there are also many who fear a dystopian future.

The Future Changed by Robots and AI Part 3: A Dystopian Future Sounded by Celebrities

Many people believe that the development of robots and AI will put humanity in danger in the future.

Since the 20th century, numerous sci-fi novels and movies have depicted dystopian futures. For example, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's masterpieces, "Terminator," tells the story of an artificial intelligence that rebelled against mankind and sends murderous androids to the past in order to eliminate the leader of the resistance army. did.

Also, in one of the masterpieces of science fiction, 2001: A Space Odyssey, there was a scene in which an AI named HAL turned off the crew's life support system and drove them to their deaths. It can be said that humans have always been haunted by the fear that AI and robots that surpass humans will destroy the human race.

In fact, even today, when artificial intelligence surpasses humans, many celebrities have expressed their concerns about a future in which robots and AI completely surpass humans. For example, world-renowned theoretical physicist Steve Hawking believes artificial intelligence could destroy humans.

In addition, Mr. Elon Musk, who leads SpaceX and Tesla, strongly criticizes the development of artificial intelligence as `` summoning the devil ''. Discussions surrounding AI, such as the definition of the singularity and when it will arrive, are mixed.

It is also difficult for non-experts to understand the progress, possibilities, and issues of current technology, so it is true that it is easy to be pulled by impactful and extreme discussions.

First of all, it can be said that we should calmly collect information while thinking as a business person how robots and AI can contribute to limited business and private uses.

The Future Transformed by Robots and AI Part 4: How Humans and Business Should Be

Based on the possibilities and risks of robots and AI, business people should be aware of the following three points.

Gathering information about cutting-edge technology and trying to understand it
Calmly assess the possibilities and business risks of cutting-edge technology
Consider whether robots and AI can be incorporated into your business
The first is to collect information about the latest technology and try to understand it as much as possible. Discussions tend to be future-oriented, and extreme discourses tend to spread to the general public without an understanding of specific technologies. As a company, it is important to look at the reality without being swayed by extreme arguments.

Second, soberly assess the likelihood and business risks. You have to think coldly about the automation of your own office work and the possibility of substituting your business. The wave of efficiency improvement by AI may be coming even in the industry to which your company belongs. It will be easier to transform your business if you identify early on what AI will bring to your company and what risks it will pose.

Finally, think about whether you can incorporate robots and AI into your business from a small place. Collecting information is important, but it is difficult to understand the possibilities and limitations without actually experiencing it.

Coexistence of robots/AI and humans is inevitable

We don't know when or how much progress will be made, but there is a possibility that robots and AI will become familiar to humans. Anticipating when such a future will come, it will be necessary to proceed with efforts to respond to it little by little.

Since it is not a story that will produce immediate results, it may be better to start a small trial from a small part of the business rather than suddenly using it on a large scale.
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