• Question: Is it true that computers are starting to play a pivotal role in engineering worldwide so do you think our world would be run by robots one day?

    Asked by rocket to Ed, Keith, Tish, Nicola, Rachel on 16 Mar 2013.
    • Photo: Edward Taylor

      Edward Taylor answered on 16 Mar 2013:

      I would say that computers already play a completely pivotal role in engineering. Pretty much all engineering systems are now designed and managed using computers, and all high tech systems contain more and more powerful computers.

      I think one day we will completely rely on computers and robots to do things for us and operate everything around us, but I don’t think they will ever run our world! We would always design them to make sure they always did as we said, and we would also put something inside them which would turn them off they started to get out of control!

    • Photo: Natasha Watson

      Natasha Watson answered on 17 Mar 2013:

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with the initial part of that question. Computers are being used in all engineering disciplines now; cars are increasingly being run by computers and buildings are increasingly automated in terms of lighting and heating to name but a few examples.

      Increasingly, computers are being employed to monitor how things like cars and buildings are used as well. This data is valuable as it can show where improvements can be made; for example, computers can be used to monitor when certain rooms are used. If, say, a certain room is only used on weekends, then computers can be used to turn on the heating an hour before it is usually occupied.

      In terms of the world being run by robots, like Ed said, they will do things for us but we would design them so that they couldn’t turn against us. There are really cool things being done in AI (Artificial Intelligence) and there is a lot of stuff on whether it’s a good or bad idea, it might be interesting to look in to!

    • Photo: Nicola Lazenby

      Nicola Lazenby answered on 20 Mar 2013:

      I don’t think I could do my engineering job without computers! They are used literally ALL the time, some times I have 3 or 4 on the go all at once…..and that’s not including the computer that controls and air conditioning and lights!!

      As all computers are designed and programmed by Humans, fingers crossed there will be very little chance of robots taking over the world. Robots will however, become very important in helping us make, do and explore certain things! There are some things, like going deep deep deep in the ocean, where it would be unsafe for humans to go…..other times, robots can be used as they are more accurate than humans doing the job. For example cutting some wood, you can do it by hand and get a wobbly line (especially if you’re me!) where as a robot could cut the line very very accurately!