What Will Robots Be Doing in 50 Years?

A recent IBM report has shown that within five years computers will be able to smell, taste, and hear. What the hell, right? If computers are going to be that advanced within half a decade, what are they going to be doing 50 years from now?

A recent IBM report has shown that within five years computers will be able to smell, taste, and hear. What the fuck, right? If computers are going to be that advanced within half a decade, what are they going to be doing 50 years from now? Is there going to be a mechanized human rights movement for the abolition of prejudice? Or maybe someone will perfect an automated love-machine that will render the human male obsolete with its horrifyingly efficient love-making? Oh, right. To get an idea of what the general public is expecting from robotics in 2062, we asked the denizens of London for their own cute ideas about what's going to go down.

Ben, 39, photographer: They’ll advance quickly. They’ll get pretty intelligent. Considering how far technology has come in the last 50 years, they’ll probably be doing anything that a machine can possibly do and probably more.

VICE: Are you worried that the machines will turn on us and kill us all?
No, because I’ll definitely be on the alliance side. I’ll fight against the robots, like in Terminator. I’d throw them all into some water, or something. Or I’d use one of those machines they used in Ocean's Eleven, like a nuclear bomb, but it just explodes microchips.

What do you want robots to be doing in the future?
My job, god help it. No, actually, I enjoy my job. I’d want them to be doing menial things and making sure that we don’t all die of poverty and starvation and anything else.

You don’t ask for much, do you, Ben?

Nina, 29 (left) and Harry 26, make-up artists.

Harry: They’ll be ruling the world. I’m afraid that, because I’m a Filofax user, they’d all turn against me.

How would you fight back against them?
I haven’t thought that far. All I know is that I trust pen and paper.

That’s not a very good weapon. If robots could do anything, what would you want them to be able to do?
Nina: I’d want a robot boyfriend.
Harry: It’d buy you things all the time.

What’s wrong with guys? Robots can have flaws, too.
Nina: They don’t if you program them right. I’d program it to do all the cleaning up and all the shitty stuff.

A relationship with a robot would be emotionless, though.
I have an emotionless relationship with my fiancé.


Joe, 28, software developer: I should probably know this because I work with them.

You should.
OK, maybe they’d have some kind of artificial intelligence. They’d definitely be evil.

Are you terrified?
Well, there might be evil ones and there might be good ones. I’d probably fight the evil ones by writing computer viruses.

Sneaky. How would you like technology to advance in the next 50 years?
I don’t know. I’d want them to do 3D printing.

That’s kinda boring, though.
I’d want a little robot dog, too.


Gareth 31 (left) and Andrew, 30.

Gareth: I think they’ll have taken us over and made us their slaves. I’d try and fight back.

I’d try to unplug it. Or I’d go old school and get some guns.
Andrew: And some knives!
Gareth: You’d get electrocuted, though. You could fire guns from a distance.
Andrew: They probably won’t have cables attached anymore, though. It’s a tricky one.

What would you want robots to be doing in 50 years?
Gareth: Some good, I guess. It’d be nice if they did all my work for me so I could just kind of chill out.
Andrew: That’s the dream, isn't it?
Gareth: But for some reason I’ve got this idea in my head that computers are kind of evil. I wouldn’t really trust the replica me. It’d be going around causing all kinds of trouble and I’d be accountable for it.

"T", 23 (left) and Ian, 23, both technical agents.

T: That’s a pretty good question, seeing as I work for a software company. They’ll dominate every single household... they’ll replace a lot of household items. It might get to a point where they replace human capital and we won’t need human labor any more.

Would you be happy being dominated by the robots?
In what context?

You said they’d dominate the households.
As in taking over technology, I meant.
Ian: They’d wash all the dishes and everything.

Are they going to take on the male role?
Oh no, I don’t think that. They’ll assist the male in what they’re doing.
T: No, I don’t think robots can help males out. If it tried to take over, I’d take the chip out.

What if the robot was a terminator?
Game over.

What would you want computers to be doing in 50 years time?
Ian: If it could go to the sandwich shop and back for me every day at lunch time, I’d be happy with that. Especially in this weather.

Previously - Anything You'd Like to Confess Before the End of the World?