A Russian web entrepreneur is betting on robot-augmented reality.
Dmitry Grishin -- one of "Russia's Mark Zuckerbergs" -- made his fortune as the CEO of the Internet communications platform Mail.ru. The service is one of the most popular websites in Russia, a communications portal that might resemble AOL, had AOL also invented Facebook. His leadership of Mail.ru has made Grishin, at 33, one of Russia's most successful -- and richest -- social web entrepreneurs.
Now, though, Grishin is betting on a different kind of future, based on a network not of people, but of ... anti-people.
Grishin thinks the future belongs to robotics. And he's backing up that belief with a hefty chunk of his own considerable fortune. Grishin just announced the launch of Grishin Robotics, which will be the first global investment company focused exclusively on funding personal robotics. Grishin is investing $25 million in the company, which will be based in New York City. It will be a venture fund, essentially, focused on robot innovation -- with an overall mission of promoting the work of companies and inventors who are helping to build us a cyborgian future.
Robotics is, at this point, pretty much the opposite of a new frontier in technology: We've been awaiting a robot-driven future for approximately a century now. But Grishin sees particular potential in the field of personal robots, he told me, for the automation of everyday necessities like home maintenance, education, healthcare, entertainment, and transportation. (Think automated medical procedures, self-driving cars, interactive refrigerators, Roombas, and -- fingers crossed! -- DJ Roombas.) While Grishin acknowledges military and industrial robotics as essential and inevitable components of automation's progress, he is especially excited about the mass-market possibilities of our self-starting friends. Grishin envisions a world overlaid with assistance from automated creatures -- a kind of robo-augmented reality.