Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘robots’ Category

Would You Like a Human With Your Popcorn?

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I did something I haven’t done in a long time recently. 

I went to an actual movie theatre where they show movies. 

Not Netflix, not Amazon Prime…a real, live movie theatre.

Two things stood out from my experience.

The first was the ticket price. I won’t say what it was, because those prices vary across the country. 

Let’s just say it was higher than that to which I had become accustomed.

The second was, when I got to the area where one purchases tickets…well, I’m not quite sure how to put this, but there weren’t any humans selling tickets.

Not…a….single…one.

Now, this wasn’t some off time mid week. This was a prime weekend matinee showing, and the only way to buy tickets was a kiosk.

So for those of you out there urging us to stand in the grocery line where humans still check other people out (as opposed to self-service checkout), that all sounds great until there are no more humans in that job.

If the movie theatre’s strategy is the direction of our future, just remember this: Robots don’t ever have to worry about standing in an unemployment line. 

That is, unless they’re holding open a place for we humans.

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2019 at 9:41 am

Posted in 2019, robots

Tagged with , ,

Robotic Confusion

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Have you watched the new “Lost in Space” series on Netflix?

Danger, Will Robinson!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.  It’s good stuff.

But, I must say, I’m now all confused about this whole robotic thing.

Now because of the new Netflix series.  

No, rather, because I keep hearing loads of contradictions about what’s going on with the whole machine versus man convo.

On the one hand, I hear that robots are going to take over the world and leave us mere mortals sitting around in a depressed malaise, complaining about how the robots took all our jobs.

And then on the other, I learn that robots are “riding to the rescue” in Eastern Europe, where severe labor shortages have forced companies to call in the machines.

Perhaps both these things are true, and that’s the real warning about our future?  We just don’t know.

Two stories in particular struck me as resonant with this apparent contradiction.

First, in The New York Times, this headline: Robots Ride to the Rescue Where Workers Can’t Be Found. 

The lede: Fast-growing economies in Eastern Europe have led to severe labor shortages, so companies are calling in the machines.

As reported, despite a roaring economy and a jobless rate of just 2.4 percent, in the Czech Republic the dearth of manpower has limited the ability of Czech companies to expand and nearly a third of them have started to turn away orders.

Jaroslav Hanak, the president of the Czech Confederation of Industry, explained that “It’s becoming a brake on growth…If businesses don’t increase robotization and artificial intelligence, they’ll disappear.”

And apparently this in an Eastern Europe that is already well automated, with around 101 robots for every 10,000 workers.

But then there’s this other story: That Elon Musk is replacing robots at his Tesla factory with humans, saying that “humans are underrated.”

This is the same guy who warned us about the coming AI apocalypse.

But because his Tesla Model 3 production facility is way behind on delivering vehicles to customers who have been waiting for many months, apparently the AI apocalypse is not so close that it will prevent humans from coming in to fix the problem that the machines caused in the first place.

As Musk explained on the “CBS This Morning” show to Gayle King in a recent interview: “We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts…And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

And so Musk has now hit “pause” on the Tesla 3 production line to try and resolve those problems with the automation and figure out a way that humans can come in and restart production and, presumably, be more efficient and reach its target of 5,000 cars produced per week by the end of 2018.

As for the robots, they’ll have to get back in their own assembly line and wait to be reassigned.

No danger, Will Robinson.  That is, unless you’re Class B-9-M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot (the Robot’s real name in the original “Lost in Space”).

Written by turbotodd

April 17, 2018 at 10:40 am

Posted in 2018, AI, robots

Tagged with ,

Robots Moving East

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The robot wars are headed east.

TechCrunch is reporting that Japanese tech giant Softbank is buying robotics firms Boston Dynamics and Schaft from Alphabet.

Direct from the press release:

Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., said, “Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities. Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution, and Marc and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots. I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family and look forward to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling.”
– via SoftBank Group

The release also explains: “The transaction aligns with SoftBank’s investments in paradigm-shifting technology and its vision of catalyzing the next wave of smart robotics.”

But this likely isn’t just about robots for robotics’ sake. A recent CNBC story explained that Japan’s service sector accounts for 70 percent of its economic output, and yet its labor productivity is 40 percent less than in the U.S.

And Japan’s population is declining faster than any other country:

Economists argue that Japan either needs to accept more immigrants or put robots to work.
– via CNBC

Okay, robots, smoke break’s over, get back to work!

Written by turbotodd

June 9, 2017 at 9:49 am

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