Global Industry Vision 2025: Living with Bots
Huawei’s annual Global Industry Vision 2025 report analyzes tech trends that are shaping the future over the next five years. In this post and short video, I give an overview of the first trend, Living with Bots.
GIV predicts that by 2025, 14% of homes will have a domestic robot.
In what form? Think of a robot in 2020 and the scope is broader than ever, ranging from the cute (a child’s smart toy or a vac bot bumping around your home) to the functional (the thing you voice command to do stuff in the home or an assembly line bot) to the classic dystopian humanoid (think iRobot or the Terminator franchise).
Whatever it is, robots are here to stay. And given their potential benefits, that’s a good thing. Advances in materials science, perceptual AI, and network tech like 5G, cloud, and IoT are making it increasingly likely that a robot will be making your life better by 2025.
Based on GIV 2025, here’s a taster of some of the applications we can look forward to:
Two main trends are driving the demand for nursing bots:
(1) It’s not just you who’s getting older: Globally, the number of people hitting the senior demographic (65 years old) is increasing by 3% per year. In today’s Europe, for example, 20% of people are over 60. For society, the prognosis of this “demographic transition” means fewer people of working age taking care of more elderly people.
(2) There aren’t enough healthcare professionals: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030, a global shortfall of 9 million healthcare professionals will exist, with Southeast Asia and Africa hit hardest. The future demand for home care workers is likely to far outstrip supply.
Many nations are stepping up research and investment into nursing-specific bots and applications to ensure that they stay ahead of the crisis curve. The functions of such bots outside of clinical settings will include:
- Collecting data from sensors embedded in wearables or from around the home and performing predictive analytics on health.
- Performing checkups, acting as smart first-aiders that can respond to incidents at the millisecond level and administer aid in the “first golden minute”, calling emergency services, and transmitting your medical data to hospitals.
- Dispensing medicine at the correct times in the correct amounts.
- Heading off unnecessary, time- and resource-wasting hospital trips before they happen.
Who doesn’t want to run faster, see better, stave off the effects of aging, or be safer at work? Demand for bionic tech is unsurprisingly on the rise, with human augmentation making Gartner’s Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2020. Here are some examples:
- Exoskeletons: Combining mechanics, sensors, AI, and mobile computing, smart exoskeletons are already available and demand is set to increase. As well as a mobility and protective tool for the elderly, exoskeletons will boost safety in industrial scenarios, help with gait rehabilitation, and allow people with neurological disorders or stroke patients to get about.
- Prosthetics: Smart prosthetics are getting smarter, with machine learning able to make the brain-limb connection that automatically conveys the intention of an action to the limb and current research looking at musculoskeletal computing models.
- Augmentation devices: As well as exoskeletons and prosthetics, sensory augmentation, for example, bionic lenses that can potentially replace the eye’s natural lens with camera optics, and brain implants that can perform functions like controlling seizures are on the horizon.
The evolution of perceptual AI, such as natural language processing and computer vision (including facial recognition), will enable multiple-round, multiple-level dialogues with nuanced, real-time changes in tone and intonation based on increasingly complex decision trees. In short, chatting to a robot buddy is destined to become indistinguishable from chatting to another person.
So, what kind of applications and experience can we expect from the artificial linguist?
- Study bots: By 2025, it’s expected that every child will benefit from an “Einstein-like” smart tutor that can tailor learning methods to individuals. In more formal settings, AI-powered analytics will also be able to spot data-driven correlations too sophisticated for human teachers, for example, if exercise before math class improves performance or how nutrition affects learning outcomes.
- Therapy bots: While machines may never replace the human connection, they’re already occupying a predictive and therapeutic role in certain health scenarios, including evaluating the brain signals of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) using EEG and video cameras to record interaction with the robot.
- Virtual therapists: With the WHO estimating that 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, emotionally intelligent robots that employ empathy and decision-tree dialogues are already proving valuable in helping to address mental health issues. The CBT-wielding Woebot and the data-analyzing mental health monitor mind.me are two examples.
- Friendship bots: Depression’s unpleasant sibling – loneliness – is on the rise. Studies report that 14% of Brits are lonely and that loneliness in the US has tripled since the 80s. But, advances in perceptual and cognitive AI will increase the sophistication of decision trees and subtle responses to human stimuli that may go some way to ameliorating the issue.
When it comes to housework, the majority of people would rather be doing something else. And the good news is that you probably will be able to – sooner than you think.
Currently, we’re seeing bots perform basic tasks like folding clothes, vacuuming, and picking things up. Butler bots will continue to learn the preferences and usage habits of individual family members and provide a range of home services for individuals and families based on voice commands, sensors, and apps.
For the full analysis and GIV@2025 predictions for how robots will impact home life and also the business opportunities and value that will be created, visit the Global Industry Vision website.
In the meantime, it might be time to start thinking about that new family member – will you embrace a robot helper, nurse, pet, or butler into your home or not? Leave a comment below.