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App. B—Commissioned Background Papers .

craftsman,

apprentice robots will carry building

materials,

lift

and

position

wall and

floor

panels,

cut

boards

to

size,

and lay brick,

block,

and eventually

stone.

In

the

next

century, labor labor) may once

intensive

building techniques

(using robot

again

become

practical.

Homes,

streets,

bridges, gardens and fountains may be constructed

ed

stone,

quarried,

cut,

and

assembled

by

robots.

of sculpt– Eventual-

ly, the

robots

oceans

will

for

food

mine the seabed,

and

fuel.

And,

and farm the surfaces of

of

course,

robots

will

play

a

major

role

in

outer

space,

  • --

    in

the

construction

of

large space

structures,

in

space

manufacturing,

and

in

planetary

exploration.

Sometime, perhaps around the

turn

of

the

century,

technology

will

develop to the

degree necessary to

the

totally

automated

factory.

In

such

factories

robot produce robots

will perform most, require human skills.

if not

all,

of

the operations that

now

There

will

be

totally

automatic

in-

ventory

and tool management

automatic machining)

assembly,

finishing,

and

even be

able

factories

will

inspection systems.

Automatic factories will

to

reproduce

themselves.

That

is,

automatic

make

the

components

for

other

automatic

fac-

tories.

Once this occurs,

productivity

improvements

will

propagate

from will

generation to generation.

Each generation of machines

produce

machines

less

expensive

and

more

sophisticated

than cline

themselves. in the cost

of

This will bring about an exponential de-

robots

and

automatic

factories

which

may

equal

the

try.

For

the

cost/performance record past 30 years computing

of the costs

downward the fact

by 20% per year.

that

computers

are

This,

used

at

least in

to

design,

computer indus– have spiraled part, is due to

construct,

and

test other manufacture

computers. Once the components for

automatic factories automatic factories)

begin to the cost

of

manufacturing

This,

obviously,

the

automatic

equipment

will

also fall exponentially.

in in

will reduce the cost of goods

factories.

Eventually,

products

produced

produced

automatic

factories

may

cost

only

slightly

more

than

the

raw

materials and energy from which they are made.

The is

long range potential literally beyond our

of totally automated capacity to predict.

manufacturing It may change

every aspect of

industrial

society.

Automatic

factories

that can operate selves, could lead civilization.

without human labor, and reproduce them- to an entirely new era in the history of

Now, in the light of the unprecedented economic potential of robots, I suppose I should comment on why the implementation of this technology is proceeding so slowly.

79

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