PSFK Fellow Oren Medel is checking out the rise of the latest developments in robotics on campus today. Prepping a piece exploring how artificial intelligence will be impacting our world, he invited us to ask him why he thinks businesses are already jockeying for position in this rapidly evolving field.

She’s writing about artificial intelligence for a report she’s presenting at the New Energy Economy Annual Summit. The partnership means she’ll be covering the “robotification” of AI stories in this stand. But that’s not why she found the conversation so interesting. Her essay helps us all understand the “smart toys” companies like Google and Facebook are developing for us–in a way that government and legal guidelines don’t.

“We think of a robotics class as a preview of a future dominated by robots and algorithms,” she wrote in one of her pieces. She’s right, but we can imagine the future much more deeply than that.

The Automation Robots Faircase can be the beginning of a robotic race the likes of which we’ve never seen before. A race whose outcome will play out across sectors ranging from car manufacturing to high tech manufacturing, that could have far-reaching societal impact. Like in A.I. 101, it’s best to skip the research and apply it to your own, specific task. But I want to look at the market; I want to see how various companies and organizations are responding to the marketplace. In fact, from afar the AI industry is already starting to focus on the market.

The open question is if this is a competition? What are companies doing to position themselves from the outset, and how are they competing with one another? This is why most startups, whether hardware companies, labs, universities, or research centers, have to do so. We could say that a race is already underway, but if you get past the first step then we’ll have a much longer discussion about the trajectory. And in this race, the prize for all the chips may be the title and credit cards of competition.

There’s nothing like an education in robotics; we have something to offer.