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Robots will outnumber humans and be emotionally intelligent by 2048

Can’t wait for the robopocalypse, guys

According to some reportedly sound research, robots are expected to outpopulate humans by the year 2048. Experts have predicted that the number of robots will rise to 9.4 billion across the next three decades. 

Dr Ian Pearson, a futurologist from Futurizon, believes his research has traced technology growth that would see robot production increase 20 per cent each year. Technology in that time, however, could advance, or demands for more rapid release could mean the robot population could overtake humans as early as 2033.

“Today the global robot population is probably around 57 million,” Pearson says in the research release. “That will grow quickly in the foreseeable future and by 2048 robots will overtake humans. If we allow for likely market acceleration, that could happen as early as 2033. By 2028, some of those robots will already be starting to feel genuine emotions and to respond to us emotionally”.

The research was commissioned by streaming channel NOW TV, as the second season of TV show Westworld launches. How reliable is this kind of study, contracted by a company pushing a dystopian future-facing television series? It’s hard to tell, as these predictions rely on ever evolving technology and consumer demands that fluctuate. According to Business Insider, Pearson has an 85 per cent accuracy record in predicting the trajectory of future technological advancements, particularly around prosthetics, AI, and space travel. 

Plus, we already know that Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawking were concerned about autonomous robots and artificial intelligence. Musk has voiced that he believes AI is an “existential risk” to humanity, while Hawking suggested robots will “outperform and replace” humans, meaning we’ll have to leave the planet.

Of course, some people might not see this as a thing to fear – maybe ask the Sophia the Robot internet stans – though a study of people in the UK saw 71 per cent of people admit they fear the rise of artificially intelligent robots in society. Almost half (43 per cent) of the Brits surveyed are afraid that robots will take control of society, almost four in ten (37 per cent) fear robots could become more intelligent than humans and over a third (34 per cent) worry robots could reduce their chances of getting a new job. 

25 per cent were also worried they may not be able to tell robots and humans apart (Blade Runner fans, perhaps), while others feared relationships between humans and robots (16 per cent).