Rodney Brooks Prediction Scorecard for 2023

Rodney Brooks, roboticist, former MIT professor, and founder of iRobot, Rethink Robotics, and Robust AI, published a list of dated predictions on 2018-01-01, in the following categories.

  • Self driving cars
  • Robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning
  • Space travel

Within each category, individual predictions were dated by year as:

  • BY — will happen by
  • NET — no earlier than
  • NIML — not in my lifetime (after 2050-01-01)

Dr Brooks has just published his “Predictions Scorecard, 2023 January 01”, updating the series of annual reviews of the original predictions, all of which are linked to in the 2023 edition. The document includes previous updates, with 2023’s new text highlighted in light yellow. There are 15 updates in the table, with correct predictions marked in green and those proven incorrect in red. For each category, an extended text description of the past year’s events is given.

In the conclusion, he provides a new set of undated “generic predictions” about items which he assesses are largely “not going to happen the way the zeitgeist suggests”.

  1. The metaverse ain’t going anywhere, despite the tens of billions of dollars poured in. If anything like the metaverse succeeds it will from a new small player, a small team, that is not yoked down by an existing behemoth.
  2. Crypto, as in all the currencies out there now, are going to fade away and lose their remaining value. Crypto may rise again but it needs a new set of algorithms and capability for scaling. The most likely path is that existing national currencies will morph into crypto currency as contactless payment become common in more and more countries. It may lead to one of the existing national currencies becoming much more accessible world wide.
  3. No car company is going to produce a humanoid robot that will change manufacturing at all. Dexterity is a long way off, and innovations in manufacturing will take very different functional and process forms, perhaps hardly seeming at all like a robot from popular imagination.
  4. Large language models may find a niche, but they are not the foundation for generally intelligent systems. Their novelty will wear off as people try to build real scalable systems with them and find it very difficult to deliver on the hype.
  5. There will be human drivers on our roads for decades to come.

Read the whole thing.