Should we be wary of robots?


By Renato Cudicio, MBA, President of Glocal Robotics Europe

The answer depends on the criteria that circumscribe the question. In terms of operational efficiencies and employee retention, the answer is no, including in the area of security. For those with malicious intent, the answer is different.

This question, “Should we be wary of robots?” was the theme of France Inter’s “Le Débat de midi program, in which I was recently invited to participate. Starting with an OECD study that predicts the loss of millions of jobs to robots in the next few years, Laurence Devillers, professor of AI and ethics at Sorbonne University and the CNRS, Nathalie Nevejans, professor of law at the University of Artois, and Antonio Casilli, professor of sociology at the Polytechnic Institute of Paris, and I went over a few aspects of this vast question to come to the conclusion that robots can bring us a lot of benefits, but that their use must be well regulated. With so many topics covered – from industrial robots to personal assistants to military robots to environmental issues – the half-answer, rather positive, was the best we could get in an hour of prime-time broadcast.

Yet the answer is very clear when you narrow it down to two topics I’m familiar with: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and autonomous security robots.

For the record, RPA relies on software robots that quickly and error-free reproduce thousands of administrative tasks performed by humans.

Should companies be wary of these RPA-like robots?
=> No, if you adopt a small-step strategy today to integrate these robots into your teams and processes.
=> No, if you consider that robots, by doing uninteresting work, will increase the satisfaction and retention of your employees.
=> No, if you consider software robots as an investment and not as an expense.

And in the field of security, should we be wary of autonomous surveillance robots?
The answer here is very similar and involves two parties: security companies and people attempting to intrude on a site so protected.

For security companies:
=> No, because robots are one of the few technological answers to understaffing.
=> No, because robots increase the profitability of operations.
=> No, because robots increase the efficiency of perimeter surveillance at large sites while reducing the risk to agents.
=> No, because teaming up with robots makes agents’ work more valuable and easier to recruit.

And for intruders:
=> Yes, because a robot sees at 360 degrees.
=> Yes, because an autonomous robot can move in the dark and in silence.
=> Yes, because a robot films and records everything at all times.
=> Yes, because a robot can trigger a very audible and visual alarm as close as possible to the incident.
=> Yes, because a robot can be remotely operated by an agent of the surveillance center to carry out a doubt removal
=> Yes, because a robot can reach speeds of up to 30 km/h to get to the scene of an intrusion.

So, yes, ill-intentioned people should be wary of autonomous security robots like THALAMUS.