Incredible economic incentive to deploy RFID

How RFID can help optimise supply chain management

From the article: $6.7 billion is a lot of money. It will come from eliminating employees from Wal-Mart's stores. Assume that the average Wal-Mart worker makes $20,000 per year. $6.7 billion represents 335,000 workers.

Now imagine the same thing happening throughout the retail sector as every retailer moves to RFID to compete with Wal-Mart. Several million people are unemployed. And the robots have not even started arriving yet. Once the robots arrive, a total of 10 million people are unemployed in the retail sector alone. See Robotic Nation for details.



Robots and the economy

Why a booming economy feels flat

From tha rticle:And:Note this sentence: "Some experts worry that wage stagnation may prove more permanent this time, because of an increasingly global market for labor." Now imagine robots moving into the picture and taking millions more jobs in the American economy.

Also note this sentence: "Normally, as employees are able to produce more in each hour of work, the result is greater cash flow that can be divvied up between workers and owners or investors." That is not happening this time. In fact, wages are retracting, not expanding. This is because of the Concentration of wealth mentioned in Robotic Freedom.



Intel details new microprocessors

Intel details new microprocessors: "Otellini also said Intel has 10 projects in the works that contain four or more computing cores per chip. And it's developing a new chip line that consumes a fraction of the electricity of today's lowest-powered chips but with greater performance... Multi-core technology will enable a range of smaller yet more powerful devices. Otellini showed off a prototype handheld computer -- dubbed a "handtop" -- that has a 5-inch display, weighs a pound and can run off a battery for a full day. Unlike today's handhelds, the wireless-enabled device can run a full-powered PC operating system. Otellini said computer makers could offer such gadgets in the first half of 2006."


Robotic cars drive themselves

GM will launch self-driving car in 2008

From the article:If GM pulls it off, this would be a leap forward for robotic technology. Combine it with lessons learned from the Grand Challenge and totally autonomous cars are just not that far away.

What this means is that autonomous, 24x7 trucks are not that far away either, and there is a huge economic incentive to deploy them. Once the robotic trucks arrive, it means that a million truck drivers will hit the unemployment lines. See Robots taking jobs for details.

[See also A Car That (Really) Drives Itself: The 2008 Opel Vectra]


Robotic doll

A Doll That Can Recognize Voices, Identify Objects and Show Emotion

From the article:This RFID technology is likely to help shelf-stocking robots at Wal-Mart navigate through the stores. See Robots in 2015 for details.



The End of Anonymity 3

This should go a long way toward ending anonymity:

New York transit signs $212 million security deal

From the article:See also:



Modeling the brain

Swiss lab works with IBM to uncover power of brain: "The scale of the project shows just how powerful our brains are. It will take an IBM eServer Blue Gene supercomputer containing more than 8,000 processors housed in four racks to model the behavior of something less than a billionth its size: a neocortical column is a cylindrical element roughly 0.5 millimeters in diameter and 2 mm long. A rat's brain contains 10,000 of them -- and the human brain around a million, according to Henry Markram, director of the Brain and Mind Institute at EPFL.

Markram's plan is to model the cylinders at the level of individual neurons: A neocortical column contains about 10,000 of those. Over years of research, he and his colleagues have accumulated a huge amount of data about how individual neurons behave and how they interconnect and interact with one another to make up a column. That data will be used to create a detailed model of a single neuron, including its three-dimensional form, inside each processor, with the Blue Gene computer as a whole modeling a column."

This computer's 8,000 processors combine to create 22 trillion FLOPS, or roughly 2.75 billion FLOPS per processor. They are using roughly one processor per neuron.

If the human brain has a million of these 10,000 neuron columns, then the brain has 10 billion neurons. Using the techniques described in this article, then, we would need about 27,500 quadrillion FLOPS to simulate the human brain. That is much higher than previous estimates. For example, in this Wired article the estimate of the human brain's processing power is placed at 100 trillion FLOPS: "A human brain's probable processing power is around 100 teraflops, roughly 100 trillion calculations per second, according to Hans Morvec, principal research scientist at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. This is based on factoring the capability of the brain's 100 billion neurons, each with over 1,000 connections to other neurons, with each connection capable of performing about 200 calculations per second.". The number given in Robotic Nation is one quadrillion.

It will be interesting to see where the number actually is.



The flat economy

Why a booming economy feels flat

From the article:Also:So we have productivity rising, but wages are falling. And job growth in the United States is pretty anemic compared to prior recoveries. That is unusual. And there is concern that this trend may affect the economy more than oil or housing prices.

Now imagine throwing robots into the mix. For example, imagine that robots take over half of the jobs in Wal-Mart and other big box retailers, forcing 5 million workers onto the unemployment roles. Imagine that robots take over truck driving, forcing out a million human truck drivers. Imagine that robots take over a large portion of the construction industry, eliminating 5 million jobs. And so on. See Robots taking jobs for a long list. The situation for employees only becomes worse.

A naysayer will always point out, "The increased productivity provided by robots will cause wages to rise, and more jobs will be created." I understand that that is how the economy has worked in the past, but that is not what we are seeing right now. And we have not really even started the real robotic layoffs yet. The kiosks and self-check out lines being deployed today are merely the tip of the robotic iceberg. Once we start seeing a direct replacement of entire classes of workers with robots, the bargaining power of employees collapses.

See Robotic Nation for details.



Robot gets on its feet

Rock 'n' roll robot regains its feet: "A humanoid robot with an exceptionally nimble knack for getting back on its feet after a fall has been developed by researchers in Japan.

Named R Daneel, the robot kicks up its legs and rolls back onto its shoulders to gain the momentum it needs to rock up onto its feet and into a crouching position. This might be fairly easy for a human to do, but for the 60-kilogram bot, it requires a relaxed attitude to body control."

Here is an amazing video of the robot in action: R Daneel in action.

The obvious question after watching the video is, "How long will it be before humanoid robots are performing gymnastics at an olympic level?"


Honda's latest ASIMO Ad


See also ASIMO



A very different way to look at the future

A very different way to look at the future:


House Sitter robot

New house-sitter robot hits stores in Japan; will cost $3,100: "Worried about leaving your house empty while you go on vacation? Japan has the answer: a house-sitter robot armed with a digital camera, infrared sensors and a videophone.

Stores across Japan started taking orders Thursday for the Roborior - a watermelon-sized eyeball on wheels that glows purple, blue and orange - continuing the country's love affair with gadgets."


Moore's law and international competition

There are a wide range of things that can spur Moore's law, including international competition:

China joins U.S. and Japan in global race to build the fastest computer

From the article:The petaflop barrier is significant because it is believed that the human brain operates at an equivalent speed of something like 1 to 10 petaops per second. See Robotic Nation for details.



Robotic Weight-Loss Surgery Passes Test

Robotic Weight-Loss Surgery Passes Test: "Using robotic arms to perform gastric bypass surgery may be the future of this increasingly popular weight-loss procedure, researchers report.

Dramatic weight loss with gastric bypass is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach, and is usually done by a minimally invasive procedure called a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y procedure.

However, this procedure is considered one of the more difficult laparoscopic procedures, the researchers noted, and usually requires 75 to 100 operations before even experienced surgeons achieve the highest level of proficiency."


Thin skin will help robots 'feel'

Thin skin will help robots 'feel': "Japanese researchers have developed a flexible artificial skin that could give robots a humanlike sense of touch.

The team manufactured a type of "skin" capable of sensing pressure and another capable of sensing temperature.

These are supple enough to wrap around robot fingers and relatively cheap to make, the researchers have claimed."



The next generation of transistors

Many people wonder what the "next step" will be beyond silicon once we start running into the physical limitations of heat production, feature size on the chip and clock rates. Here is one of the possible answers:

Y-shaped nanotubes are ready-made transistors: "Tiny tubes of carbon, crafted into the shape of a Y, could revolutionise the computer industry, suggests new research.

The work has shown that Y-shaped carbon nanotubes are easily made and act as remarkably efficient electronic transistors - the toggles used to control the flow of electrons through computer circuits.

But the nanotransistors are just a few hundred millionths of a metre in size -roughly 100 times smaller than the components used in today's microprocessors. They could, therefore, be used to create microchips several orders of magnitude more powerful than the ones used in computers today, with no increase in chip size."

And this article points out that there is a good bit of steam left in conventional silicon architectures as Intel moves from a 90-nanometer to a 65-nanometer architecture for its newest chip design:

A new flagship for Intel: "The chip will have more than one core, or processor. It could exploit Intel's newest manufacturing technology, which makes chips with circuit widths 65 nanometers in length, compared with the 90-nanometer chips in production today. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter." This chip will be announced on August 24.

A key feature of Moore's law is that innovation can work on many different fronts to keep the improvments coming. See Robotic Nation for details.


Robot IQ test

IQ test for AI devices gets experts thinking

From the article: "How do you tell just how smart your robot is? Give it a universal IQ test, researchers suggest.

Traditional measures of human intelligence would often be inappropriate for systems that have senses, environments, and cognitive capacities very different from our own.

So Shane Legg and Marcus Hutter at the Swiss Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Manno-Lugano, have drafted an idea for an alternative test which will allow the intelligence of vision systems, robots, natural-language processing programs or trading agents to be compared and contrasted despite their broad and disparate functions."



End of anonymity 2

In July we talked about The end of anonymity. Here are three examples of the process in action:
  1. Security Cameras Multiply in Manhattan: "Six surveillance cameras could be seen peering out from a chain drug store on Broadway. One protruded awkwardly from the awning of a fast-food restaurant. A supersized, domed version hovered like a flying saucer outside Columbia University. To the dismay of civil libertarians and with the approval of law enforcement, they've been multiplying at a dizzying rate all over Manhattan."

  2. Bush signs prescription drug abuse measure: "The measure provides grants for states to establish and improve electronic programs for monitoring controlled dangerous substances and sharing that information with each other, in a bid to stop people from crossing state lines to get prescriptions filled and avoid monitoring."

  3. Wired News: Brit License Plates Get Chipped: "The British government is preparing to test new high-tech license plates containing microchips capable of transmitting unique vehicle identification numbers and other data to readers more than 300 feet away. Officials in the United States say they'll be closely watching the British trial as they contemplate initiating their own tests of the plates, which incorporate radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags to make vehicles electronically trackable."
This article from a couple of weeks ago indicates one of the many advantages of the end of anonimity: U.S. Teen Not Found in Aruba Landfill. If there were no anonimty, we would not be having to dig through a landfill in the hope of finding her body. We would know exactly where her body is and who she was with at the time of death. See also Robots and felonies.


Military robot

Military machine: Defense robot developed at CMU makes its debut

From the article:Also:



The Dream Machine, 2005

Every year, Maximum PC magazine puts together its "Dream Machine". It's the most powerful PC that you can build with off-the-shelf components. This year's machine has quite impressive specs, including:Over a billion transistors in all. The machine costs almost $13,000 when you include the case, power supply, dual monitors and speakers.

You read the article and you think, "My God, this is an insane amount of computing power and disk space! Who could possibly need such a machine?!" But then you look back at the first Dream Machine that they built in 1996. That machine had:They didn't even have a "3D graphics card" in it, because 3D graphics cards didn't exist yet.

Just 9 years ago that was an insanely expensive ass-kicking machine. Today this 9-year-old Dream Macine is so pathetic that it would be unusable. 32 MB of RAM??? You could not even launch the OS in that.

Even coming up to the year 2000 Dream Machine, you find:That cost $12,000. $12,000! Today a $500 desktop PC at Best Buy beats that.

So... Between 1996 and 2005 -- just 9 years -- disk space increased by a factor of 1,000. RAM increased by a factor of 250. CPU clock speed increased by a factor of 11, there are 4 cores instead of 1 and the number of transistors went up by a factor of 150. And now we have incredibly powerful graphics cards holding 300 million transistors -- a technology that did not even exist 9 years ago in the normal PC marketplace.

Project out 10 years from now, to 2015. It is quite likely that the $13,000 "Dream Machine" of 2005 will seem pathetic and unusable. You won't even be able to buy a machine like this because it is so pathetic. The 2015 Dream Machine will have:Who knows what the graphics cards in 2015 will be doing.

Will the machine in 2015 contain a vision processing card??? That is the huge question I have. 3D graphics accelerator cards like we see today did not even exist in 1996 as far as the Dream Machine was concerned. Will we see vision processing cards arise from nothing and explode in power like that? Or will it take ten years more?

What will the robots in 2015 be able to do?

And what will the Dream Machines in 2025 look like? I don't think we can imagine it.

See Robotic Nation and Robots in 2015 for a discussion.



Robot Nurse

Robot makes medical history

From the article: My mother was in the hospital last week, and it is very interesting to think of Penelope in the conext of a modern hospital. A hospital is teaming with people, like bees in a hive. And each person's role is highly specialized. There is one person who takes temperatures and BP, another who dispenses medicine, another that delivers trays of food, another that picks up trays of food, one who takes blood, one who monitors the IV, one to clean the bathroom, another to change the sheets.... It is absolutely amazing.

Most of these people are highly paid. The economic pressure to eliminate all of these jobs and replace them with robots is immense. Penelope is an early harbinger of the things to come. See Robotic Nation for details. See also The birth of the robotic hospital.



Robots have all the fun

This article makes a great point:

Idle Words

From the article:In other words, robots are doing all the exploration -- all the cool stuff. The era of manned space flight may already be over. Humans have been replaced by robots because robots are cheaper, more reliable, and don't mind waiting a few years to get to their destinations. And the robots will only get better and better, making humans more and more superfluous in space. Welcome to the Robotic Nation. We will soon see replacement process occurring in every part of the economy.


Robot catcher grabs high speed projectiles

Robot catcher grabs high speed projectiles

From the article:



8th International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition

The 8th International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition is underway.

For play-by-play coverage of the NCSU team (with lots of photos of the robot), see GoRobotics.net.

See also NCSURobotics.org.



Artificial actors

On monday there was a post on the rise of robot actors. A reader sent in this link:The realism demonstrated in this link is fascinating, and all of it was done by one person on a 1.4GHz processor. When you think about how much video games have advanced recently, it is interesting to imagine how real these virtual actors are going to be in 10 years.

It also gives you a taste of how different movie making (and TV production) may become in the near future. Today a major movie takes hundreds of people and $100 million or more. This mini-movie was created by a single individual, and the process will only get easier and easier as the technology advances.


These rooms sound amazingly like the rooms in Terrafoam

Here's how the rooms are described in Manna:Now here is a description of a new hotel opening in England: Capsule hotels come to Europe:See Manna for details.


Robots take scientists into sea depths

Robots take scientists into sea depths

From the article:



The end of actors may be nigh

Actors are expensive and prone to weirdness (see, for example, Tom Cruise). Movies like Skrek and Finding Nemo can break box office records with zero people in them. Therefore, studios will be applying robotic actors more and more. This technology will help speed the process along:

Avid previews groundbreaking Softimage|Face Robot facial animation technology

From the article:See also robots and jobs.


Robots and felonies


PC Precisely Predicts Felony

From the article: The article also states:What if every traffic light contained cameras, microphones and artificial intelligence so that it could track every person walking by and detect possible crimes in progress? What if every street light and building had the same sort of system? Then we would have blanket coverage throughout a city, and every crime would be detected and recorded as it happened. See also The end of anonimity.



If you have always wanted the domain robotic.com, here's your chance:

eBay: Domain: ROBOTIC.COM


Sex Offender GPS Tracking

States Move on Sex Offender GPS Tracking

From the article:Seems reasonable with sex offenders. What if we did it with everyone all the time? See The end of anonymity.


'CyberBug' robot

'CyberBug,' can drop in and quietly gather intelligence

From the article:

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