Robots are set to invade workplaces, shops, homes, schools and hospitals. Whereas traditional industrial robots are large, unthinking, complex to programme and too dangerous to operate alongside people, the emerging generation can perceive and learn, be taught tasks on the fly and move among us to greet customers, help out in the lab or office, care for the elderly, teach children and save lives.
Artificial intelligence, whether on board a robot or racing across the web, is predicted to take jobs from drivers, soldiers, teachers, journalists, doctors and even lawyers. What does this mean for business, the economy and our lives?
According to visionaries including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk, the thinking machine may become a threat to our very existence. Does a robot vacuum cleaner in our home augur the "singularity" - when artificial intelligence exceeds our comprehension and control?
In this podcast Andrew Maggs, a Principal Associate in the Tech team, talks to guest panellist Murray Shanahan. A Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College, London, who speaks regularly on AI, robot perception, learning and consciousness, he has also recently written a book soon to be published by MIT Press on The Technological Singularity.