We've watched the robotic revolution ramp up over the years, into manufacturing, hospitals, even vending machines, and while there are plenty of barriers, they are being reduced by the day it seems. As more and more platforms grow up, stabilize, and provide support for new robotic-based opportunities to bloom, it seems important to look at is what this means for art, design, and creativity in entrepreneurship; aka robots not only taking a menial job, but a creative one, earning money at it, and then spending it to create more.
Robot Economics + Entrepreneurship
Aleksandr Kapitonov is a "Robot economics" academic society professor at Airalab. He is also an assistant professor of Control Systems and Computer Science at ITMO University, where he received his Ph.D. in industrial automation in 2014. With a heavy focus on navigation, computer vision, and communication for multi-agent systems, Kapitonov understands deeply the shifts we are seeing. This entanglement with high-technology led him from drone technologies to associating it all with blockchain, explaining how AI and blockchain solutions make economic freedom for machines a possibility. He seemed to be just the person to ask about this potential dark side of AI and the potential impact we might see in the world of innovation, entrepreneurship, and design.
It's Not About Replacement
This is not only a blockchain issue, or an AI issue... it's a social issue, a political issue even. This is something that people are talking about from the World Economic Forum to the oil rig workers off the Gulf Coast who are wondering if a robot will take their job away. We are seeing the expansion into areas where humans have been for generations and while this might be difficult to some, the real focus should be on growth rather than upset. This high level of technological integration will allow more people, just like Kapitonov, to grow the communication and information exchange between different autonomous systems like smart factories and the Internet of Things. The transparency and ledger we can build into these new systems is astounding... but is there a downside, and if so, what is it?
Automation and Artistry Collide
Creative algorithms are a living document of our progress in AI and high technology. But can computational creativity serve up the same level of aesthetic we search for in the world of art? Are robots capable of augmenting creativity? And is this the dark side of AI?
The Dark Side
Being a Rhode Island School of Design grad myself, the idea of focusing robots on art definitely perks my ears up. However, when this point came up in the conversation with Kapitonov, his reasons for pushing art and robotics was so different from my fear of what might happen. For Kapitonov and his team, the idea was to create a simple solution where a robot could produce the final product and sell it, and art falls easily into those parameters. From there, the infrastructure is meant to provide a robot with it's own wallet to allow an economy to grow.
Also, Let's Talk Data
Another interesting point we hear about constantly, but don't often discuss here is data; your data, my data, and all of the other data being constantly generated and mined every second of every day. "Right now, all power is concentrated in the single hand, the hands of service providers. For example, as you can see the situation with Facebook and what they are doing with your data. In our vision, with the blockchain technology, you can own your information by yourself. You can decide. Do you want to sell your information or not and what kind?"
The same will be true for our robots of the future, their data, their choice. Which makes me curious for what this next industrial revolution holds for all of us, creatives, innovators, and the rest. Will we fall victim to the dark side of AI? Will we extend too many rights? Will we take it too far? Or are we so new in the process that we are just beginning to fathom the possibilities this revolution can offer us? You be the judge.