I think we all know that any menial task that we try and fill with a human with no experience will one day be replaced by a robot. Just think of all those car-washers, fast-food counter workers, and other people who will one day be all mechanical, with no place for humans except for the managers, until more advanced robots are created to manage the worker robots.
Rethink Robotics has created an interesting robot named Baxter that is able to learn. Rethink says this robot has the capacity to learn as a user can simply interact with the robot using physical manipulation as well as other on-screen prompts. You can watch a video after the jump and see that Baxter is good at sorting, assembly, and various other tasks that the user literally has to hold Baxter’s hand in order to learn.
In addition to its ability to learn, the Baxter robot has a “face” that is essentially a tablet. You can see that Baxter has expressions of surprise as well as sadness. In other words, if it is having trouble, it will actually show its frustration, and not bottle it up inside like a human.
I have no doubt that Baxter is the future of the blue-collar workplace. They cost $22,000, which is about the cost of a worker per year. Perhaps the robot get a health plan or repair plan.