Artificial intelligence and robotics are advancing at breakneck speed, but do they make for a viable business? Google seems to think maybe not. Google’s new parent company Alphabet is planning to sell Boston Dynamics, a robotics company that it acquired a few years ago. Despite the marketability and relative success of simple, consumer-oriented robots like the Roomba, more advanced humanoid robots like those developed by Boston Dynamics probably have a long way to go before they will become feasible products. It has also been speculated that one deterrent factor is negative public response to humanoid robots that could threaten to take away jobs from humans.
Boston Dynamics have received funding from DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps in the past, because many of their robots have been geared toward military or similar use. Historically, many of humankind’s greatest technological advancements have been made in the name of war. That makes it kind of disappointing that a consumer-focused company such as Google hasn’t found a way to make a sustainable business out of some of the most advanced robotics technology around. It would be great to see these kind of advancements supported by businesses and private investments, rather than military and government spending.