Robots will have limited impact without major theoretical breakthroughs.
Professor Greg Michaelson

Professor Greg Michaelson, of the University’s School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, joined a panel of experts to debate how intelligent machines could impact on peoples’ lives in future years.

Scientists from the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a partnership between Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh, shared views on commonly held perceptions about how advanced robots might take over jobs done by human workers and explored the advantages that smart machines might offer.

Professor Michaelson said, “Robots will have limited impact without major theoretical breakthroughs in natural language understanding and cognitive modelling, and practical breakthroughs in engineering and power sources. Without these they will be restricted to, albeit increasingly sophisticated, repetitive activities in predictable environments, and will continue to require human intervention and guidance in more complex contexts.”

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, Professor of Robotics at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, who chaired the debate, said, “Advances in robotics mean that machines are becoming smarter, and are set to play a bigger role in many aspects of our lives.”