Arts for Action's Sake

The Robot Are Coming, Sort Of!

September 26, 2018

Tags: robots, jobs

Down and out in Silicon Valley
Atlas, Boston Dynamic’s 165-pound robot and YouTube sensation, can run, jump, and even do backflips, and is rarin’ to go to work. But who wants to hire him?

Atlas is a classic case of technology outstripping utility. He’s designed to mimic a human being’s movements, but not to do anything useful that a human might do.

One of Atlas’s UnHuman Resource issues is that he’s not a self-starter. He needs a very-human handler to control him with a laptop, a joystick, and a wireless radio. He’s also clumsy, according to the New York Times. In a recent demonstration he stumbled to the floor several times and crashed headlong into a pylon. But given how quickly robotic technology is advancing, his deficiencies are unlikely to be anything other than growing pains. I wouldn’t be surprised if, like many humans seeking to enter the work force for the first time and lacking a saleable skill set, he ends up in the military.

The immediate future in robotics appears to be highly specialized, single-task applications. Flippy, Miso Robotic’s hamburger-making robot, (more…)

The Robot Revolution=Robotic Evolution

April 25, 2018

Tags: Robots, jobs

Early Androids
You can’t escape them. Turn on the TV, pick up a magazine or newspaper, search the Internet. Robots started off as a futuristic threat, quickly became a nervous, jokey prediction about lost jobs for humans, and now are in danger of becoming a meme.

Still, other than the occasional Roomba vacuum cleaner or Robomow lawnmower (my favorite), most of us still haven’t seen a robot in action. That’s because they work largely behind the scenes on the factory floor. It’s also because they tend to look nothing like the bipedal, anthropomorphic, android robots of our imagination and our toy stores. Today’s robots are designed to do very specific functions (more…)

The Robots Are Coming? The Robots Are Coming?

March 21, 2018

Tags: Robots, jobs, fast food

Flippy waiting for humans to catch up
Well, I do still think they are, and sooner than we think, although in the spirit of fair play there have been a flurry of reports that suggest otherwise. Or insist that if and when they do come, they will have minimal impact on American jobs.

The most recent apparent setback was the death of a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, on Monday, struck by an “autonomous” Uber car, despite the presence of a human safety-driver. In response, Uber has suspended all tests of self-driving vehicles until an investigation is complete. There were several mitigating circumstances: it was dark, (more…)

The Robots Are Here!

March 7, 2018

Tags: Robots, jobs

"Look, Ma, no hands!"
Here are a couple bulletins from the AI front. It’s worth noting that all appeared in the New York Times yesterday and today.

Uber has announced it’s been operating driverless trucks for several months, serving customers in Arizona. They still have a human in the cab, ready to take over if anything goes awry, but they plan to phase out the carbon-based life form over time. Uber’s strategy is to have so-called “autonomous” trucks for highway long hauls between “transfer hubs,” where humans can take over, driving the final few miles to the customer’s loading dock. Uber claims that driverless trucks will increase driving jobs, in part because of greater demand, spurred by decreasing costs. The company also has a bridge to sell you.

Google has unveiled new research that helps explain how machines reach their decisions, using neural networks, complex computer programs that learn by analyzing vast amounts of data. (more…)

The Robots Are Coming? Or Are They Already Here?

January 4, 2018

Tags: Robots, jobs, fast food

"Flippy" working the grill
Robots Will Transform Fast Food” reads the headline in the online edition of The Atlantic, and “That might not be a bad thing.

The Atlantic article goes on to describe how Japan—where else?—is already ahead of the curve, with a fully functioning okonomiyaki restaurant that makes a gin and tonic to serve along with the cabbage-and-meat-topped pancakes. Here in the US we’re still in the development and test phase, with “Sally,” a boxy robot from Chowbotics that assembles salads ordered on a touch screen, and “Flippy”—the inspiration for the McRobots in The Piketty Problem—who’s turning out 150 burgers an hour (more…)

Jobs for Robots

December 15, 2017

Tags: Robots, jobs

Better than a minimum wage worker on a bicycle?
Jobs and robots have been making news recently, but in unexpected ways.

Economists and business leaders are finally realizing that the tax bill that President Trump and the Republican congress is trying to ram through as a Christmas present to corporations and the 1 percent, will create more jobs all right—for robots! A provision (more…)