Global Agenda Council on Robotics & Smart Devices 2012-2014

 

The challenge

Technological advances in robotics over the past few years have been impressive: robots have been used in factories, as exploratory vehicles in deep sea and space, for minimally invasive surgical procedures, as automated vacuum cleaners, and even as exoskeletal artificial limbs. Drones have been deployed not only for military strikes, but also during humanitarian emergencies. Devices and appliances used in everyday life are increasingly “smart”, with Internet connectivity multiplying exponentially the capabilities of phones, watches, eyeglasses and cars. However, as these trends emerge and develop, few people can fully understand – and in some cases accept – what it means for them in the context of social, technical, economic, legal and cultural changes.

What the Council is doing about it

The Global Agenda Council on Robotics & Smart Devices has set itself the challenge of educating those who are not aware of the future implications of robotics, from citizens to policy-makers. To do this holistically, it has established three focus areas: robotics; data streams and smart devices; and smart devices and robotic technologies.

  • Robotics: Currently being produced, a short documentary on robotics will describe the solutions robots can offer for cognitive and physical support for an ageing population, and a website will explain the structure of robotic sensor-based distributed systems.
  • Data streams and smart devices: The Council will collaborate with the Global Agenda Councils on Personalized & Precision Medicine, Wellbeing & Mental Health, and Education to examine the potential of personal devices and their interaction with the Cloud-distributed digital network. In each area of collaboration, concrete descriptions will be developed of how existing and easily accessible tools can serve as enablers.
  • Smart devices and robotic technologies: The Council plans to extend the model developed last year to drive the global transformation of smart devices and robotic technologies. A progression from the former to the latter is taking place, equivalent to the movement from direct manipulation to (almost) total autonomy. Smart devices that deal with cognitive deficits and health data serve as an example. As a person ages, autonomy is increasingly delegated to the robot. This gives rise to the notion of distributed autonomy.

Devices and appliances used in everyday life are increasingly ‘smart’, with Internet connectivity multiplying exponentially the capabilities of phones, watches, eyeglasses and cars. However, as these trends emerge and develop, few people can fully understand – and in some cases accept – what it means for them in the context of social, technical, economic, legal and cultural changes.

The Council plans to develop a suite of applications to be downloaded and piloted with collaborating Councils before the end of the 2012-2014 term. 

To get involved please contact

Research Analyst: Rigas Hadzilacos, Associate, Global Agenda Councils, rigas.hadzilacos@weforum.org 
Council Manager: Stephanie Nassenstein, Programme Manager, Science and Technology, Programme Development Team, Stephanie.Nassenstein@weforum.org 
Forum Lead: Martina Gmür, Senior Director, Head of the Network of Global Agenda Councils, martina.gmur@weforum.org 

What we're working on:

Rader, E., Echelbarger, M. Cassell, J. "Brick by Brick: Iterating Interventions to Bridge the Achievement Gap with Virtual Peers". In Proceedings of the CHI'11 Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, 9-12 May 2011

Chua, Kee Chaing, Gurusamy, Mohan and Liu, Yong. Quality of Service in Optical Burst Switched Networks. Springer, 2006

Oung, R. and D'Andrea, R. The Distributed Flight Array. Mechatronics, 2011, Volume 21: Pages 908-917

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