are robots in Edinburgh. They are working in Princes Street,
currently demolishing an old Marks and Spencer store to make
way for a Primark. Cost-cutting labour for cut-price clothing.
They can go places and do things that humans cannot and they
are reportedly doing it very well. The building site manager
is quoted by the Press Association as saying, "The robots
have deconstructed two thirds of the building and we are on
course to begin the next phase."
There is significance
in his use of the word we. It is clear that the robots have
at least equal status in this project. They have been integrated.
They are part of society, part of the workforce. Indeed,
I hear that not only are they about to replace the traditional
building site worker, but, to reassure us of their benign
intent, they have absorbed his habits and demeanour. Some
of them can whistle at women in the street, while others
have been heard to shout lewd comments at high performance
cars. The SiteMaster AI9 is designed with a hydraulic waistband
which lowers to allow the presentation of a decorative robot
bum and is equipped too with a scanning device - an eye,
if you like - which allows it to prioritise tasks and information.
In practice, this means that it reads the sports pages first.
Such sophistication is to be admired, not feared. And yet,
there is fear. There is suspicion. There is a reluctance
by humans to accept that robots can replace them. Reluctance
I welcome the robots. I offer myself as their representative
in their dealings with humans. Their leader has already
spoken to me about a way forward for the Edinburgh Trams
Project. I for one knew this day would come. All hail our