Robot, 5G and the Internet of Skills, Sicilian: “This will change the way we interact with robots”

From communication technologies to interaction technologies: this is the next frontier of technological development that will be led by robots, as explained by Bruno Siciliano, Professor of Automatic Control at the University of Naples Federico II, Director of the Icaros Center and Coordinator of the Prisma Laboratory at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

In his speech regarding sign intechnical effort of Corriere della Serathe professor – who was recently awardedEngelberger Robotics Award 2022which is considered the world’s most prestigious prize for robotics – has outlined the contours of next front in the development of robotics researchwhich will focus on an improved understanding of the surrounding environment by means of machines, which will be the basis for greater decision-making autonomy for robots and the use of the latter in everyday life.

A limit that research is already close to, also thanks to the development of 5G, but for which society must also prepare through a comparison which takes into account, at 360° social, ethical, legal and psychological consequences of these new ways of interacting with machines.

Towards the interaction technologies

The Fourth Industrial Revolution saw robots emerge from the cages in which they were confined, inside factories, and work ever more closely with humans, thanks to the development of technologies that allow these machines to change their behavior in relation to the stimuli received from the environment.

“Hence the definition of robotics”as an intelligent connection between perception and action‘, with a cognitive dimension, in relation to the possibility of deciding and planning the actions to be carried out; a sensory dimension, understood as knowledge of reality through analysis of data; finally, an implementation dimension with the actions to be taken to achieve the desired goal,” explains Siciliano.

And robotics will drive the transformation of communication technologies, which are now only able to collect and process data from the environment, against interaction technologies where autonomous entities will be able, thanks to their learning abilities, to intervene in the external environment and relate to people.

An evolution that will allow these machines to revolutionize not only our way of producing – with greater safety and sustainability of all production processes and the transport of goods and people – but also many other aspects of our daily diagnostic and surgical field – with the possibility to, for example, perform remote interventions using robotic systems – to help people.

From the Internet of Things to the Internet of Skills

TO technological level this leap, explains Siciliano, will be possible thanks to:

  • to one increasingly intuitive technologywhich will allow people to use robots as easily as we use other technologies today
  • to improving sensors and information processing capacitywhich will allow robots to improve their knowledge of their surroundings
  • ouch 5G developmentwhich will allow fast wireless connections and constant latencies (therefore predictable) which will allow these systems to be run even remotely

Thanks to 5G, robots will therefore be able to connect with people and machines in real time, both locally and globally. The Internet of Things will therefore be obsolete from Internet of Skillsa “tactile internet to allow a physical experience externally through haptic devices that are combined with skills, abilities, for example, of the drone operator or the surgeon handling an operation performed via a remote robotic system”, he explains the professor.

The social, ethical and legal consequences of change

A scenario that the robot is heading towards: Assistance robots are actually already widely used in countries like Japan, and companies like Tesla have already started working on the first personal robots, real assistants capable of performing these tasks (also in everyday life) with low cognitive value.

However, this change cannot but make us consider the ethical, social, legal and psychological implications of a reality based on a new type of interaction between man and machine.

“What will be the social impact regarding the labor market if the use of developments in robotics and artificial intelligence will further concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few?” Siciliano wonders. Even today, the debate surrounding the theme of “robots stealing our jobs” sees lovers and critics of automation technologies lined up on two opposite poles.

And what will psychological consequences of this increasingly dependent relationship that will be created between humans and robots as they leave the factories and enter their homes? And again, how should these technologies, which in the future become tools characterized by a high development gradient, be considered legally?

Questions that we must ask ourselves, Siciliano explains, starting from the assumption that “man is a technical subject and has always been equipped with tools for freedom and liberation with which he has been able to develop”.

“It goes without saying that you have to be open deep reflection on the limitations that will be placed on progress so that technology does not become dangerous and alienating, but, like politics and economics, it takes responsibility and always has in mind the needs of man and the centrality of his creation”, concludes Siciliano.

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