When the dust of the presidential election settles, whoever claims the
throne big chair in the White House will get briefed on all kinds of stuff. Said stuff includes a report titled Global Trends 2025 — put together by the National Intelligence Council, a US Intelligence Community think tank — which states: "Six civil technologies offer the potential to enhance or degrade US power over the next fifteen years." It includes "service robotic technology" as part of the six.
So here's the breakdown: The NIC report places Japan at the top as the leader in R&D and commercialization of 'bots, followed by the US, South Korea and the EU. It details the rise of wearable robots and the semi-autonomous variety over the next decade, culminating in artificial intelligence with the power to "demonstrate useful decision-making and communicate effectively." The report also makes some pretty lofty predictions: home robots evolving from toys to tools in 2015, and fully autonomous robots in the military beyond 2020. While it all may seem far on the horizon, it's telling that think tanks are targeting advanced robotics as something that'll need some legislating soon.
The other possibly disruptive techs? "Biogerontechnology, energy storage technology, biofuels and bio-based chemical technology, clean coal technology, ... and information technology devoted to increased connectivity of people and things."
Image taken from the cover of How To Survive a Robot Uprising.