‘Disruptive’ is the latest buzz term headlining presentations at robotics’ conferences. Wikipedia describes Disruptive as ‘an innovation that creates a new market by applying a different set of values, which ultimately (and unexpectedly) overtakes an existing market’, and provides several examples – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation. Over the next years, many robotic innovations, some of course not yet known, will undoubtedly prove to be ‘disruptive’ as they transform our society and improve our quality of life.
However, with all the negative backlash from the recent media about ‘robots taking jobs away from humans’, I’m concerned that the public, not knowing what the economic definition of disruptive is, may associate ‘disruptive’ with its synonym meaning of ‘disturbing’, ‘unsettling’, ‘troublesome’, etc. Thus, I urge the industry to reconsider using other words, perhaps less ‘startling’ to the public to describe the tremendous benefits advanced robotics will have on society, some of which have already been ‘positively’ acknowledged, including those robots used in healthcare or in life-threatening environments where robots can step in for a human such as in defusing bombs, putting out major fires, handling radioactive materials, search and rescue efforts, etc.