You have a busy day planned. You get in your car, tell him to drive you to your office, open your email from the iPad in the car, and tell the car to call your first customer. After her car pulls into her parking space, she walks to the door of his building and it automatically opens after recognizing his face. You arrive at your office, you sit at your desk and your personal assistant arrives and hands you a cup of coffee with two creams and one sugar just the way you like it. Your assistant then retreats to the back of the office with all the other personal assistants and plugs into your charging station.
Sound like the typical start to your day? Not in 2017. Wishful thinking, but artificial intelligence and machine learning certainly haven’t evolved to that point. Your personal assistant may not be replaced by a robot anytime soon and neither will the security guards at your office building. We often think of robots as characters from movies like Star Wars or humanoids designed for world domination. While we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that technology isn’t advancing in almost every area of our lives, here are four reasons why robots won’t replace human security guards anytime soon:
- Humans still write software and program robots
People do the programming and develop the algorithms for the robots no matter how sophisticated and advanced we think the robots are. They only solve problems and perform actions that their software and algorithms allow them to do. Contrary to popular belief with all the fuss about advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning, robots don’t think for themselves. They are designed to solve a specific problem and are not equipped with generalized intelligence.
For example, programmed robots use their sensors to receive information about a situation, process that information by searching their preprogrammed databases, select the best action based on the data, and carry out the selected action. Robots on a car assembly line at a car manufacturing plant or the robotic arm on the space shuttle that is controlled by human intervention come to mind. However, other robots work differently than the pre-programmed ones. Robots running artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can learn to recognize and repeat a certain action that was executed successfully the first time by storing that information and looking for it to produce the same result again. Ultimately, the task of writing software and algorithms is done by humans.
- Security guards do more than patrol offices and shopping malls
Have you ever been in a situation where deep down you know something doesn’t feel right? Some people would call that intuition or “trusting your gut.” The machines have not been able to replicate such a complex emotion. Security guards face situations where they need to trust that feeling and may have to make a quick decision. That decision could make the difference between life or death.
Security guards are often the first to respond to emergencies. Guards are trained to maintain order, help people stay calm, reassure them, and deal with difficult situations. It’s hard to imagine a robot that makes people feel safe during an office building evacuation or a terrorist attack. Cobalt Robotics has developed an indoor security robot that patrols the office space, but in emergency situations, trained Cobalt Robotics employees take control of the situation, not the robot.
Human intelligence and emotions are so complicated. The robots have no logic, they cannot be held accountable for their actions, and they cannot convey the finite details of a story or something they have seen that could be crucial to an investigation.
Many guards are employed to provide personal protection services to executives and VIPs. These guards know how to think fast and change the game plan at a moment’s notice to keep the person they’ve been hired to protect safe. They pre-plan escape routes within buildings and participate in overall security planning for their client. Would you trust a robot to protect your life no matter how many sophisticated algorithms it had in its CPU? Not right now. And when it comes to delivering that “warm and fuzzy” feeling, robots just aren’t up to the task.
- Robots have limited capabilities
When it comes to chasing down perpetrators, getting into small spaces, holding trials, and arresting people, robots have a long way to go. Its capabilities are limited. Take, for example, Knightscope’s security bots. They report suspicious activity in a similar way to the Cobalt Robots, and again, the humans respond at the control center and conduct the investigation. In fact, in July of this year, one of Knightscope’s robots dove into a fountain outside a DC office building, according to
washington post. While she was patrolling she fell down some stairs and right into a fountain. The humans had to rescue him from the water. We can only speculate that perhaps his sensors were unable to identify the stairs. The poor robot couldn’t explain why he fell into the fountain. On the other hand, if human security guards make mistakes, they are required to explain why and what happened and are held accountable for not fulfilling their duties.
- Robots could help, NOT replace human security guards
Robotic technology is here to stay and continues to advance in many areas of our lives. Fear that technology could be a serious problem in the future. We can choose to work alongside technological advances or fight against them. Working together would seem like a better option. The security industry itself could be presented with some new and challenging tasks for security personnel to learn. Security guards could be trained to maintain their robotic counterparts, learn how to operate them and earn better wages. Employee turnover could decrease due to potentially higher salaries and an increase in technical responsibility. A higher skill set for guards could translate to more people seeking a career in security services.
Security guards need not fear losing their jobs to robots anytime soon. Robots can enhance, not replace, tasks performed by security guards who do much more than patrol office buildings, shopping malls, and parking lots. Robots and machines have their place in society: working alongside humans to make our lives easier.