Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coburn vs. Robots

It seems that Senator Coburn (of the state of Oklahoma, where I currently live) has decided that research in domestic robotics is wasteful.

I beg to differ. (Another example of someone else who also differs.) General purpose robots are a bit pie-in-the-sky but are also amazingly important, in my view, both to understanding who we are as people and in their possible pragmatic application. Domestic tasks are often at the center of this, in my view.

Say we did shave the 1-3 billion dollars that Coburn thinks could be saved through better NSF management. Sweet, that's like up to 0.4% of US military funding.

I don't have numbers on it, but a couple of years ago, I sat with a small group of researchers at a robotics conference who were lamenting how far behind the US is in robotics research, at least outside the military perspective. Supposedly, at least Europe and Japan do a much better job of funding basic robotics research. I wonder what the effects might be of that? Hard to say.

I agree research funding is hit and miss, but so is entrepreneurship or anything else in life. And I'd love to see more robotics funding in the US, not less.