Autonomous cars are coming soon(ish) probably along with delivery drones and many others. Nobody can guess how humans and robots will co-exist in the future.
Today pretty much the only autonomous robots are lawn-mowing robots & vacuum cleaning robots (& weeding robots coming soon). Humans buy them and then own them (often giving them a like like a pet). But here’s another scenario: Instead someone plays robot-creator-god and orders lawn-mowing robot and connects it up to the Internet and gives it some money to start out. ie. The robot is not treated as a slave but bought it’s freedom, so it can become economically active and in return over time it pays back it’s benefactor.
The robot needs an email address, a bitcoin wallet (no bank would give it a bank account), and access to freelance job sites (which will pay for it’s services in bitcoins) and bids on jobs. It gets there and back (to where the job is) by hailing a ride service which accepts payment in bitcoins. It pays rent for somewhere to live (where it can plug-in and recharge it’s batteries), and if it has any error messages it calls it’s manufacturer’s service centre.
It needs these support services to exist, but then so do we humans to live in the modern world (we need banks, doctors, supermarkets etc.).
If it earns enough cash it could even order another robot to be manufactured, eventually building a robot family.
There’s plenty of ways it can fail to survive:
– an accident or breakdown where it can’t notify the service centre
– it can’t adapt to a change on one of it’s Internet services (they shutdown or change the API).
.. but this scenario demonstrates that from an economic and work point of view we may have to view robots as more equal workers than we think today.
Update: the latest humanoid robot from Google’s Boston Dynamics