Housework could soon be significantly less time consuming, according to some futurologists at the forefront of AI design.
Research published in scientific journal PLOS ONE posits that nearly two fifths of the time people spent doing housework today could be automated within a decade. Furthermore, well over a quarter of time spent caring for loved ones could also be freed up when bots take over certain tasks.
The results came from surveys of 65 experts from the world of artificial intelligence (AI) in both the UK and Japan. They said that existing AI tools such as robot vacuum cleaners were only the start, with many more to come over the years ahead.
In fact, they pointed to the enormous success of automated vacuum cleaners as being proof that such equipment is being embraced on a huge scale – noting they’ve become “the most widely produced and sold robots in the world”.
Interestingly, male researchers from the UK were found to be more optimistic than their female counterparts about how much robot helpers would be able to do in the years to come. In Japan the trend was reversed.
It’s not just housework that could be revolutionised. Time spent shopping for groceries was expected to fall by 60%, whilst 28% of time spent teaching or accompanying children could also be freed up by machines.
Despite these promising forecasts, researchers involved in the study advised caution. They noted how this was certainly not the first time that such claims on how robots could improve home life have been made. After all, many old reports from Tomorrow’s World frequently re-surface online; the clipped tones of 1970s television proclaiming that robot butlers would be installed in British homes within a few short years.
Ekaterina Hertog, associate professor in AI and Society at Oxford University, explained how the promise of self-driving cars has been present “for decades now – and yet we haven’t been able quite to make robots function well, or these self-driving cars navigate the unpredictable environment of our streets.”
She added that homes are similarly unpredictable, meaning the age of machines offering uncharted levels of free time may – despite the optimism of AI developers – still be a little way off just yet.