A little while ago, I found a newspaper article saying that a next-generation auto production line developed by a German manufacturer had gained much attention at an exhibition. According to the article, a robot installed in the production line reads an IC tag embedded in a car body supplied from the previous process, and based on information from the IC tag, the robot assembles the remaining parts of the car. If this line is put into practical use, a small amount of production of a wide variety of products could be achieved at a cost similar to mass production. Moreover, it is expected that if a multiple number of robots and plants are connected through a network, efficient, smart production with less waste will be realized.
In 1920, Karel ?apek used the term “robot” in one of his dramas. Since then, the development of robots has remained one of the big dreams in the field of scientific technology. The manufacturing industry is one of the first areas where robots began to be used. To increase operation efficiency and replace people working in severe environments, industrial robots have long been used in the manufacturing industry. In recent years, however, robots have begun to be used to support people’s daily lives. A typical example is a cleaning robot. Also, if you take a look at the sophisticated functions of PCs and smartphones today, you can easily imagine that robots will be further entering the territory of people’s intellectual tasks.
Although it is impossible to predict the level to which a robot brain will evolve, I feel that there is a big hurdle regarding the act of “making a decision.” Making a decision is selecting a path to the future. The experience and information that form the basis of a decision are often insufficient and uncertain. In this regard, it is often the case that successful decision-making depends on how much wisdom you have obtained from people in the past, as a truly reliable resource. I feel that this is the significance of learning the classics and liberal arts.
Nevertheless, scientific technology is progressing day by day. Since robots are very good at information collection, memory work, calculation, and analyses, the time will come soon when robots can perform even the act of “making a decision.” If you depend on a convenient robot too much and if you don’t make efforts to develop your capabilities or to enhance the quality of your work, you might find yourself working under the instructions provided by a robot. Is it too much to say so?