It may seem odd to suggest that the robot should legitimately qualify as an extraordinary ordinary thing. For most people, the term “robot” most likely conjures up the image of a clumsily massive whirling humanoid-like machine, which is not something we commonly encounter every day. Moreover, the robot is often viewed as something malevolent and to be feared.
In recent years, the more modern term “bot,” short for robot, may have somewhat modified this disconcerting perception. Most people have certainly heard of robots used in industry, such as in assembling motorcars (robotic arms). They also certainly know that such robots in no way resemble humans and are incapable of deliberately doing human beings any harm.
While the term “robot” was coined only in the early 20th century, the concept of a robot, humanoid or otherwise, goes back centuries and even millennia.
Continue reading The Robot: Extraordinary ordinary things
The barcode, those unreadable patterns of lines on most products we buy, are ubiquitous to the point of being banal. We see them everywhere, and therefore pay little attention to them. However, not so long ago, you wouldn’t have seen them anywhere. Nevertheless, in their short history (approximately 40 years), they have affected daily life in so many ways that if they suddenly disappeared, we wouldn’t know how to live without them. This is why the barcode unquestionably merits a place on the list of what I call “Extraordinary Ordinary Things.”
Continue reading Barcode: Extraordinary Ordinary Things￼
My fellow bloggers, Ted Lewis and Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez, claim robot automation of knowledge work is proceeding at such as pace that many workers will be displaced from jobs, and there will be no new replacement jobs available for them. Robots will take over all kinds of work and there will be no work left for humans. They further claim the only good way to address this inevitable socially undesirable situation is “basic income guarantee” (BIG). There is a more optimistic side to this complex issue and it is not as bleak and prohibitively expensive as BIG. To show it, I will briefly examine these questions:
- What is new about job displacement with AI technology?
- How fast is it happening?
- What is a good social response to the disruption?
Continue reading My Robot Wants Your Job—NO
“As industrial robots go from being caged and very expensive (and high-maintenance) to affordable and collaborative, six in 10 manufacturers are expected to begin deploying robotics technology across a wide range of tasks (including assembly and materials handling),” say Daniel Araya and Christopher Sulavik in a recently posted Brookings Institute blog.
For the last year and a half, MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have been arguing that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Since 2000, employment has hit a wall as productivity continues to grow. We are seeing the beginning of a revolution that will displace not only manual labor, but so-called white-collar labor as well. Continue reading My Robot Wants Your Job—YES