The Robots of the 2020s Will Be More Like Terminator than C-3PO

A new generation of humanoid robots are coming in the 2020s, says innovation and industry expert Alec Ross. They will care for our aging populations and revolutionize manufacturing.

From Icarus to Frankenstein's monster, tales in Western culture warn against outsized ambition and imbuing non-human objects with human qualities. But that skepticism doesn't exist in the East, says innovation and industry expert Alec Ross. It's there that technology companies like Honda and Toyota are creating humanoid robots that do human duties — like caring for the elderly. This sort of soft robotics may reverse our cultural skepticism toward human-like machines. Meanwhile these robots will completely revolutionize industry. Already one of the world's largest manufacturers has declared it will only hire robots in the future, not humans. So the future is a mix of robotic benevolence and very high efficiency, says Ross.

Beware the New Techno-Colonialism

Many in the West assume that poor people or racial minorities are somehow not going to understand technology, but this sort of paternalistic view is dead wrong, says Ross.

Alec Ross’s Career Advice

Alec Ross fell into his technology advisory position in the Office of the Secretary of State after spending years dedicated to fighting poverty.

Big Think Interview with Alec Ross

A conversation with the senior adviser for innovation in the Office of the Secretary of State.