A wave of robotic information

Over the last two weeks, so many people have sent in so many articles that it has been hard to keep up. Here's a roundup of the many submissions I have received:Thanks to everyone for all of your help! Enjoy!



If you haven't been keeping up with advances in nanotechnology, then this article is eye-opening:

An Overview of CRN's Current Findings

From the article:What are the risks? The article states:It is very interesting reading, and also very interesting to ponder the social/economic ramifications.

As mentioned in Robotic Nation and Manna, the effects of technologies that will fall into our hands over the next 20 to 30 years will be unbelievable from a social and economic standpoint. These technologies have to power to create "heaven on earth", or "hell on earth", depending on how we manage their arrival and dispersion.



"I, Robot" clips - "A documentary of the future"

This featurette is a piece by Alex Proyas where he describes the movie "I, Robot" as a "documentary of the future":

I, Robot Video

The trailer for the movie is available here:

I, Robot trailer

Several things portrayed here are certain to happen withing the next 30 to 40 years:However, robots will go much further. Will Smith will not be driving his own car, for example. It is doubtful that cars will even have steering wheels. Robots will be doing all the driving -- humans will be seen as a hazard.

Robots at this level of functionality will also take nearly every job we see in our economy today. See this post for details.



Robots and Physical Therapists

Robo Rehab

From the article:This article does not engender any love for insurance companies, does it? "But if patients can function - even one-handed - their insurance firms may tell them that their rehabilitation is done" is not a happy sentence.

But the point is that robots are better than human therapists in many cases today, and apparently insurance companies are happy to pay for the robots, so the robots will win. Most human physical therapists will eventually be out of work as the robots get better and better. See Robotic Nation for details. See also this post.



Humanoid Robot

A picture paints a thousand words:

How long will it be before it is a second robot, rather than a human, standing on the ladder?

See Robotic Nation for details.


Biotech and robots

I can't tell you how many people have said to me, "The economy will create plenty of new high-paying jobs. Just look at Biotech -- there's millions of new jobs that will be created in just that one industry!"

For some reason, people assume that Biotech jobs will not be automated with robots, and that all the jobs to be created in Biotech will stay within the boundaries of the United States.

These two articles are therefore interesting:

Testing the offshore waters / Biotech firms experiment with moving work overseas

From the article: "The nonprofit scientific research contractor SRI International [has] become an outspoken advocate of offshoring work to tech centers like Shanghai, where labor costs are a fraction of Bay Area rates."

Are biotech jobs next to go? Stronghold of Bay Area economy not immune to trend

From the article:The fact is that all the mundane lab work can be done by robots. Many, if not most, of the non-automated jobs can be done for a tenth the cost by off-shoring them. And there it is. See Robotic Nation for details.


Mobile robots and factories

Robotics gets moving - Intelligent mobile robots are closer to being used in manufacturing plants than people think

From the article:Also:See also this post.



Successful X-45 robotic bomber

Robot Plane Drops Bomb in Successful Test

If the Marines' Gladiator robot or DARPA's huge Spinner robot are not enough for you, then try the new robotic bomber, offically known as the X-45:

From the article:Now imagine thousands of Gladiator, Spinner and the X-45 robots operating together on the battlefield, or quelling a riot in a city.

This robotic airplane also marks another step in the elimination of humans from the cockpit.


The spinner robot

Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle (UGCV) (Spinner)

If the Marines' Gladiator robot was not enough for you, try the Spinner robot:

Click to enlarge

Spinner is a robotic chassis. From the article:The article suggests missions as long as 14 days (without refueling) for Spinner.

Imagine mounting all of Gladiator's weaponry and much more on this huge chassis and then turning it loose on a battlefield or a city. See this post for details.


Robots and diamonds

Edmonton Journal - canada.com network

From the article:Also:This sentence is extremely important: "Robots are invading the industry so quickly that some companies are using them exclusively to put the sparkle in their gems." One year, people are doing all the work of diamond cutting. The next year, robots "invade the industry" and an entire industry is largely gone from the labor pool.

This is not the slow, century-long process we saw with the loss of jobs in agriculture or in manufacturing. It is a three-to-five year process instead. Once robots cross over the cost/benefit cusp, everyone in the industry must convert to robots rapidly or go out of business. Thousands of workers are quickly unemployed.

Imagine the economic effects when retail, construction, transportation, etc. all automate at approximately the same time, and you understand the power of the Robotic Nation.



Security Robot

New Security Robot Doubles as Facility Operations' Wi-Fi Robotic Assistant

From the article:This ability to share maps and communicate wirelessley is fascinating, because it means that groups of hundreds of robots will be able to act much more intelligently than single robots can. Imagine a city containing millions of robots, all of them sharing information with one another like this. See also this post.



Virtual pilots are now able to land planes

The latest article to show how robots are advancing in the cockpit is this one: Virtual pilot lands Qantas jet. From the article:See Robotic Nation and Manna for details. See also this post.


Fully armed military robots

The previous post on humanoid police robots prompted a friend to send in this article on fully armed military robots: Gladiator robot looks to join Marine Corps.

From this article:From this article:That is a very low price point -- not much different from the annual cost of a soldier.

The price will fall, and advancing computer and vision technology will make the Gladiator and its descendents more and more autonomous. At first it will take one soldier to operate each Gladiator. Then a soldier will be able to operate two or three simultaneously. Then a soldier will be able to operate a squad of 20 of them, and so on. In 20 years, imagine thousands of gladiators, instead of soldiers, deploying on the battlefield. Or deploying to police a U.S. city.


Upgrading robots

Spirit Stands Down for Flight Software Update

In both Robotic Nation and this blog, I talk a great deal about advancing robotic technology. Robots will be gaining new capabilities in the coming years as computers get faster and algorithms improve.

One interesting aspect of these advances is the fact that they can often be accomplished through field upgrades on existing robotic hardware. The Mars rover named Spirit received such an upgrade recently. According to the article:This ability to upgrade in the field can make robots more flexible than humans in lots of situations. Imagine, for example, a situation where the army has 100,000 soldiers deployed on a battlefield and things are not going well. There is no easy way to retrain 100,000 soldiers on the fly. If they are robotic soldiers instead, the Army can upgrade them all in a few minutes.


Report on the DARPA Grand Challenge

They’ll Be Back: DARPA’s robots founder in the desert, but their day will come

The article offers a more in-depth look at how things went at the Grand Challenge -- what the qualifying was like, what the race was like, etc. It offers some insights into the race that were not available in the quick reports that came out after the race finished.

See also this post.



The future of robotic police

This short, highly realistic movie shows us one vision of the robotic future of police: (If the movie is broken, try this page for a mirror)

The movie shows a single robot. Imagine instead hundreds of these robots policing in groups to protect one another and provide insurmountable force against the humans around them. Imagine hundreds of robots communicating instantaneously with each other through wireless networks, sharing and integrating views of the battlefield and seamlessly coordinating their activities.

One interesting anthropomorphic artifact in this movie is the fact that the robot has only two eyes. The robot is constantly turning its head to see things. That will not be the case in when real robotic police and soldiers arrive. They will have eight or ten pairs of eyes arranged around the head to provide a complete 360-degree stereoscopic view at all times. There will be no "sneaking up behind" a robotic police officer, especially with multiple robots integrating their views with each other.

The following article explains why such a future is not that far away:From the article:Also:Welcome to the Robotic Nation.



Very flexible humanoid robots

This page and its mirror show videos of a highly advanced small humanoid robot:

mirror: http://outboxes.com/www.vstone.co.jp/e/rt01e.htm

Watch the videos of it kicking a ball, or getting up from a prone position, or doing a handstand. The flexibility is amazing.


Robots and therapy, part 2

This post discussed the ability of robots to take over marital counselling in the near furure. The following article shows another form of therapy that robots are practicing in Japan:

In gadget-loving Japan, robots get hugs in therapy sessions

From the article: Speaking of Aibo, it is interesting to look at Sony's Aibo Web site and see what this robot, now in version ERS-7, is capable of today. When I visit the site, the tag line is, "From the first day you interact with AIBO, it will become your companion." Here's what the site has to say:One can only imagine what it will be able to do in 20 years...


Outsourcing, part 2

As discussed in the previous post, millions of white-collar jobs are going to be outsourced to India over the next 10 years. This process has a big effect on the tax base, because these are primarily upper-middle-class jobs that are leaving. According to this article: As jobs leave, taxes do also:The loss of these jobs would not be a concern if economists thought that these millions of jobs were going to be replaced with even better, higher-paying jobs in the U.S. Apparently, many economists do not feel that is going to happen.

Now imagine the outsourcing trend combining with the loss of manufacturing jobs to robots, as well as the loss of service sector jobs to robots, etc. See Robotic Nation for details.



The advantage of robotic replacement

At least when you are replaced by a robot, you are not asked to go through this:

Workers asked to train foreign replacements

From the article:Also:See also this post.



Robots and teachers

Robots and Teachers

The BBC is reporting, in an article entitled "Watching TV is bad for children", on the effects of TV on young children. The article says:The most provocative part of the article, however, is this sentence:What this sentence brings up is the fact that there are now two ways to look at the world: At some point, traditional physical environments will all become SPEs, and kids will only feel comfortable in artificial environments pumped into their brains either through Vite Racks or through Vertebrane systems.

What does this have to do with teachers? Clearly the BBC article is pointing out that the days of the traditional teacher in a traditional classroom setting are numbered. Why would we continue to educate our children in boring, Stimulation-Deprived Environments? Instead, we will begin the changeover to robotic and computer-enhanced education of a highly stimulating nature. This will begin an upward cycle of ever increasing stimulation for our children's brains, to the point where the people alive today seem "slow" and "backward" by comparison.

See also this post.



Robots and cars

Robo-Cars Make Cruise Control So Last Century

According to the article: "Industry engineers and executives view [new car automation] as the start of a trend that will play out over the next decade, in which automobiles become increasingly in touch with their surroundings and able to act autonomously.

The article lists a number of new technologies for cars:This quote is particularly interesting: "Combine [GPS] with radar cruise control, add a lane-changing system and throw in a transponder, or cameras, and pretty soon you could have a car that self-drives itself in the middle of a bunch of conventional cars." This is just 10 or so years away.

Once cars are driving themselves, so are trucks. So are taxis. Etc. Several million people are out of work in very short order. See this post and this post for details.


Robots and the concentration of wealth

The article Robotic Freedom states that robots and automation will turbocharge the concentration of wealth. This article from the NY Times provides more evidence that this is exactly what is happening: We're More Productive. Who Gets the Money?. It states:The problem with this process, if it continues, is that wealth concentrates more and more until America starts to look like a Third World plutocracy. See Robotic Freedom for details and a solution.

For numerous examples of this unprecedented concentration of wealth at work, Click here.



A shift in thinking - robots are now better than people

There is an Apple ad in Scientific American magazine. The headline for the ad is, "The dawn of a new PC era. The 64-bit processor." Here's part of the text from the ad:The "untouched by human hands" line is interesting. We can assume that these ads have been through a dozen focus groups and numerous other forms of vetting and tweaking before publication, so the "untouched by human hands" line must strongly resonate with consumers.

In other words, humans have already started to see humans as a liability rather than an asset. Robots are now better than people.

It is easy to imagine the "untouched by human hands" line transferring to lots of other businesses. For example, McDonald's could cook all the food robotically and advertise that your meal is "untouched by human hands". An airline could advertise that the controls of the airplane are "untouched by human hands". Your new clothes could be manufactured in a robotic factory "untouched by human hands". So could your new car. And so on.

This trend will be a key driver for the Robotic Nation. When robots are better than people, it is easy to hire robots.



Time shaving and productivity

This article in the NY Times this morning talks about time shaving: Altering of Worker Time Cards Spurs Growing Number of Suits. Time shaving is the act of altering employee time cards to reduce the number of hours they worked and pay them less. According to the NY Times:And so on. It's a growing problem.

There are several quotes on productivity, like this one:And this:This kind of pressure to increase productivity will be one of the things that makes it so easy for companies to replace humans with robots the minute that the robots are available.




The Valet You Don't Have To Tip
- The mesmerizing extravagance of mechanized parking.

The article discusses an automated, 74-space mechanical carport in Washington DC. It has the ability to detect oversized cars (more and 6' 6" tall) and overweight vehicles (more 6han 5,500 pounds). "The underground vault that stores the car is arranged like a closet outfitted with a pair of giant shoe racks. The cars are stacked in columns four-high along two walls."

The largest robot parking structure in the world is in Istanbul and holds over 600 cars.

The company that makes these robots is called Wohr. There's a very cool photo on this page.



Pilots and robots 2

In this article: Robotic Planes Complete Fly-by Testing is this quote: "The flights are part of a NASA project to develop a collision-avoidance system that would allow fully autonomous, and not just remotely piloted, aircraft to operate in civil airspace." See this post and this post for more details.


AOL and Outsourcing

Lots of companies are outsourcing to India. Here's an example of the process:

AOL sets up software center in India

From the article:Also:Also:And:The employment landscape for U.S. programmers has changed dramatically. This process is not happening over the course of a centrury, as it did with agricultual automation and factory automation. Instead it has happened in just a few years.

There is no stopping the offshoring process, and it will not stop at IT. Accounting, tax preparation, financial analysis, reporting, writing, film making, customer service, billing/payroll, editing, illustration, engineering, design, manufacturing, etc., etc. -- millions of jobs across a wide spectrum of white-collar and blue-collar activities -- can all move off-shore to some degree. And they will.

As mentioned in Robotic Nation:See Robotic Nation for details.

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