March 29, 2017

Robot news.

1. "Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs." (NYT)
For every robot per thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs and wages fell by as much as three-fourths of a percent, according to a new paper by the economists, Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University. It appears to be the first study to quantify large, direct, negative effects of robots....
2. "Humans and robots are companion species on this planet. We need each other." (Slate)

3. Tiny girl seems to think a water heater is a robot, attempts to engage with it, is deemed cute by internet.



4. "Ingestible Snake Robot Could Slither Through Your Intestines." (Live Science)
"The external shape of the robot is a 2D projection of a rotating helix. The result is a continuously moving wave. We can simply reverse the direction by reversing the direction of rotation of the motor," said one of the robot's inventors, David Zarrouk, a mechanical engineer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
5. "A robot designed simply to burn every single tweet sent by Mr Trump has amassed thousands of Twitter followers."

66 comments:

Etienne said...

I like the suggestion to make robots pay the same taxes as the human(s) they replaced.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Almost anything that child did would be considered cute.

Bad Lieutenant said...

ALMOST? That tot could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue (with a tiny pistol) and not lose cute.

Nonapod said...

I haven't watched the new Westworld yet as I don't feel like paying HBOs exorbitant monthly fees, but I did enjoy the second season of Humans (British TV series). But after watching that and hearing about Westworld, I think there's a misconception about humans and robots and what type of robots humans might want to interact with. I don't think there is or will be a strong desire for the creation of robots that seamlessly duplicate humans in both form and mind. The uncanny valley is about more than just appearance.

Levi Starks said...

Tweet burning, and its followers.
Kind of sounds like activity the SPLC should be tracking.
Seeing as how concerned they are about symbolic burnings, and hate....

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Etienne said...

I like the suggestion to make robots pay the same taxes as the human(s) they replaced.

Sure. And after that lets make tractor trailers pay the same taxes as would be paid by all the humans needed to carry that same load over the same distance.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs.

The important point that is missing from this headline is that they are only American Jobs as long as they can be done by Americans for a profit. As soon as the profit is gone, so are the jobs. They will either be done here by robots, or by cheap labor in another country, or by cheap robots in another country.

Jack Wayne said...

So a dumbass used a robot to burn trump's tweet. That said we are hoping to get more and cheaper energy for our country. Energy which ran that tweet burning robot. What's the over/under on the dumbass believing in man-made global warming? And being against more and cheaper energy?

Richard said...

“I like the suggestion to make robots pay the same taxes as the human(s) they replaced.”

Be careful what you wish for. If the robots have to pay taxes, they will also get unemployment insurance, social security, and Medicare. ☺

Ann Althouse said...

Am I the only one who hated the water heater video because I think a water heater put out by the street like that should be positioned horizontally so it can't fall over and kill a kid?

wild chicken said...

When I was a little girl I loved robots, esp Robby in Forbidden Planet. But just the idea of having a robot!

He'll if I know why.

isthmus legend said...

Typical passive aggressive behavior by leftists and progressives. If you don't want to see DT's tweets, don't subscribe to his feed. Instead, they feel the need to tell everyone that they subscribed to DT's twitter feed for the sole purpose of receiving his tweets so they can burn them. So brave, so contrarian. No wonder twitter keeps losing money and investors won't touch it.

jimbino said...

We need to elect robots to the House and Senate. They could do nothing a lot more cheaply.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Am I the only one who hated the water heater video because I think a water heater put out by the street like that should be positioned horizontally so it can't fall over and kill a kid?

I must admit, I did not think about that. You are correct off course.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jimbino said...

We need to elect robots to the House and Senate.

This will happen shortly after the majority of the country switches to electronic voting machines, even though nobody remembers voting for a robot. ( in fact, none of the people conducting exit polling remembers anyone claiming to vote for them. However, the exit polling company's computer system which tallies the results does, in fact, show them winning decisively. )

Some of the losing politicians tried to claim that robots could not serve in Congress, however a quick online search of the congressional record shows that Congress voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing it, so that settles it.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ingestible Snake Robot Could Slither Through Your Intestines.

Robo-Rooter, that's the name...

pacwest said...

I was really suprised by the number of workers displaced per robot. I would have figured it to be much higher. I wish the article would have gotten more into productivity gain numbers. It seems to me that at some point in the near future that job displacement by robotics will be much much higher than present. There will have to be some huge changes to the basic structures of society when that happens. The singularity isn't just near. It is already happening. I for one don't welcome our new overlords. (And I believe true AI will never happen.)

Larry J said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...
Etienne said...

I like the suggestion to make robots pay the same taxes as the human(s) they replaced.

Sure. And after that lets make tractor trailers pay the same taxes as would be paid by all the humans needed to carry that same load over the same distance.


Why stop there? Why not tax computers and software used in business to improve productivity? Why not tax ATM machines for taking the jobs of bank tellers? Why not tax earth moving equipment? We could hire a lot of men with shovels to do the work of one man with a backhoe. Why stop there? Imagine how many men we would have to hire if we made them use spoons instead of shovels?

Hagar said...

Ah, the Chinee coolie school of economics!

Do you really want to go back to cars built with hand labor and 50-60,000 miles lifespans?
Lightbulbs made by hand @ $10/ea.?

Bob Loblaw said...

Ah, the Chinee coolie school of economics!

Do you really want to go back to cars built with hand labor and 50-60,000 miles lifespans?
Lightbulbs made by hand @ $10/ea.?


I wouldn't go that far, but I would be willing to give up some GDP growth if it meant people on the left half of the bell curve had more opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.

Hagar said...

People on the left half of the bell curve would also be better off if people on the right side would stop taxing and regulating them to provide jobs and benefits for themselves.

John said...

What is it with Robots all of a sudden?

Industrial robots have been common since the early 80s. Prices have come down considerably and they have gotten more common but not as common as stories about them in the past year. Mostly by people who have no more idea than a goat what a robot actually is.

To be fair, most people who work with robots, including myself, have no more idea than a goat what they are either. Is an ATM machine a robot? The gadgets that autonomously schlep stuff around Amazon's and other's warehouses are called robots. Does that make Uber's self-driving car a "robot"?

It's all automation. We have been hearing for 300 years, since Boulton and Watt invented the commercially practical steam engine, that automation would put everyone out of work. So far it has not happened.

ATM's were supposed to kill bank teller jobs yet with ATMs on every corner, there are more people working as bank tellers than ever.

I am old enough to remember when I had to call an operator to make a call to my next dore neighbour. "Direct dialing", when we finally got it, was a really big deal. What happened to the million or so telephone operators?

Automation has been cutting manufacturing employment on an almost straight line since 1946 (See the graph here http://mungowitzend.blogspot.com/2016/04/hey-trump-and-sanders-manufacturings.html ) yet manufacturing, in 2016 dollars, adjusted for increasing population, is almost 3 times in 2010 what it was in 1970.

And we all live better.

I've worked with manufacturing automation since 1976. I've been in more than a thousand manufacturing plants in all industries. All these manufacturing jobs, that a kid could get with no skills? Most of them were shit and most of them did not pay particularly well. More or less minimum wage. Most of them you spent a lot of time laid off. A lot of those folks are better off financially and physically working at Walmart and the like.

After 70 years of automation replacing human workers at a breakneck clip, most Americans are better off today than ever before. Better housing, better cars, better education (or more of it at least), better health and so on.

John Henry

n.n said...

So, if labor demands are being met by robots, then the implication is that [catastrophic anthropogenic] immigration reform is human trafficking with intent to exploit democratic leverage.

John said...

Some pieces I've published on robots in recent years:

http://www.packagingdigest.com/fillers/4-benefits-robotic-filling-take-packaging-operations-next-level

http://www.packagingdigest.com/automation/13-automation-game-changers-that-ease-engineering-tasks150407

http://www.packagingdigest.com/robotics/new-racer-robot-pursues-packaging-applications1506

http://www.packagingdigest.com/robotics/what-are-collaborative-robots-and-why-should-you-care1505

http://www.metalmecanica.com/temas/Los-Cobots-estan-dispuestos-a-trabajar-contigo+108359

jaed said...

I would be willing to give up some GDP growth if it meant people on the left half of the bell curve had more opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.

How are people who are already at a disadvantage supposed to be able to provide for themselves in a smaller, stingier economy?

People not on "the left hand of the bell curve" (I assume including yourself) will do OK in such an economy. They won't live as well, but they'll be on the top half of a not-so-good heap, and they'll do OK. People on the left hand of the bell curve won't be as lucky.

Everyone suffers when you damage the economy, but people on the lower end suffer more.

toxdoc said...

"Am I the only one who hated the water heater video because I think a water heater put out by the street like that should be positioned horizontally so it can't fall over and kill a kid?"

Nope, you aren't the only one....I got a shiver when she went up and hugged it.

John said...

This is an article that caused me to start cussing out loud while having lunch with my son. There are just so many things wrong with it. I find it hard to believe that the reporter is this ignorant. I think she wrote it this way because she wants robots to be scary:


Husband sues after rogue robot kills wife at work

By Abby Stubenbort, www.wlky.com
View Original
March 15th, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —

A man in Michigan has filed a federal suit after a rogue robot killed his wife while she was at work.

William Holbrook is suing robotics comapnies Prodomax Automation Canada, Flex-N-Gate LLC, FANUC America Corp., Nachi Robotic Systems Inc., and Lincoln Electric Company on allegations including negligence and defective design.

According to the suit filed last week, Wanda Holbrook, a technician at Ventra Ionia, was killed in July 7 2015 after a robot in a factory for bumpers and trailer hitches went rogue, entered an area it was not supposed to be in and crushed Holbrooks's skull while she was inspecting machinery.

Holbrook was pronounced dead at the scene after discovered by coworkers.

“Upon entering the section, the robot hit and crushed Wanda’s head between a hitch assembly it was attempting to place,” the court papers say.

(Emphasis added - JRH)


http://www.wlky.com/article/husband-sues-after-rogue-robot-kills-wife-at-work/9134002

They make it sound like the robot had gone postal and was roaming the plant looking for workers to kill.

Original Mike said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said..."Am I the only one who hated the water heater video because I think a water heater put out by the street like that should be positioned horizontally so it can't fall over and kill a kid?"

Put it on its side and it rolls over the kid.

John said...

BTW: The little info I can find about the case above makes me think the worker herself was responsible.

You NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, enter within reach of any robot unless you personally have locked out all electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic power to the robot.

This lockout is done with a padlock on the main switch etc and with the person working having the only key. If multiple people are working on it, they each put their own padlock.

It sounds to me like she didn't do that, for whatever reason. Had she done this, the accident could never have happened.

Sometimes the victim is to blame. Though management may also be to blame for not enforcing LOTO as a standard practice.

rehajm said...

Robots suck at driving despite what 20 somethings from Palo Alto tell you.

John said...


Blogger jaed said...

How are people who are already at a disadvantage supposed to be able to provide for themselves in a smaller, stingier economy?

With new jobs that we don't even think about today.

For example, how many finger nail specialists, or whatever they call themselves, were there before the 80's? A few manicurists in high end salons and barber shops.

Now they are on over street corner as well as the middle of the block.

In 1990 or so I was reading about the industry and how it bloomed overnight. The article pointed out that there were enough salons to support 40-50 periodicals (monthly of better) in the US. A couple dozen in Vietnamese.

If govt will just get the Hell out of the way people will create jobs for themselves and others. It is easier today to do than ever, if govt would let people loose.

John Henry

rehajm said...

The robot burning Trump tweets lets lefties make it to Thursday...

The artistic juices stimulated by Trump are evidence we can do without NEA funding.

John said...


Sometimes the victim is to blame. Though management may also be to blame for not enforcing LOTO as a standard practice.

To clarify: Of course, the robot and safety systems may have been faulty and unsafe as claimed. If so, the husband is right to sue and the court will be right to assign responsibility.

That still doesn't negate that, whatever safety systems may be installed, no matter how good they are, how properly designed and so on, they can still fail.

The only way to be safe working around a robot or any other machine is to make sure that it is completely de-energized. That requires proper lockout/tagout practice by the individual working on or near it.

Regardless of the machinery failures, if the victim did not lock out the robot, she is at least partially to blame.

John Henry

John Henry

John said...

I mis-remembered some things about nail salons:

the article was in 1997

There were only 3 national trade magazines, 1 in vietnamese

But the industry went from nothing in 1980 to $6,000,000,000 at the time of the article and to 239,000 licensed nail technicians.

A pretty good article for those wondering where the jobs will come from.

https://reason.com/archives/1997/10/01/the-nail-file

But even here robotics, in the form of Hewlett-Packard printers are a threat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O8u5VQGNeM

Does that make my printer a "robot"?

John Henry

Robert Cook said...

"After 70 years of automation replacing human workers at a breakneck clip, most Americans are better off today than ever before. Better housing, better cars, better education (or more of it at least), better health and so on."

Are you kidding?! What underground bunker have you been living in?

College grads can't find jobs or move out of their parents' houses; adjusted for inflation, wages have stagnated for decades; benefits and permanent jobs are disappearing in favor of "gig" jobs, (Uber drivers and the like), temp jobs, service jobs, (baristas, waiters, retail clerks), part-time jobs, or no jobs. People live on credit card debt...until they max out and crash.

We are in dismal shape.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger toxdoc said...
"Am I the only one who hated the water heater video because I think a water heater put out by the street like that should be positioned horizontally so it can't fall over and kill a kid?"

Nope, you aren't the only one....I got a shiver when she went up and hugged it.

3/29/17, 4:04 PM


Harming the child would be a violation of Asimov's First Law of Robotics.
If the robot had harmed the child, it would therefore be . . . scrapped.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The first link with the statistic of how many jobs per thousand are replaced seems pretty suspect to me. I would have to read the study and read the article. However, since it is the NYT....ain't gonna happen. Also the definition of what is a robot is pretty nebulous.

It would depend on the job and the industry as to how many jobs or if any can be replaced. We have had robotic equipment for quite some time. The auto industry is a prime example of jobs being replaced or jobs being changed by robotic equipment. I wouldn't call those robots.

Fast food workers are easily replaced by self ordering kiosks and now burger flipping machines. The reason this is so is economics. They have decided to price themselves out of existence by demanding to be paid more than they are worth and more than the industry can bear. Be careful what you demand. You might get what you ask for and find out you ARE replaceable.

Other jobs will not be replaced by robots. Some activities just do require an actual human being. Try to get a robot to do your plumbing work. Most blue collar, physical labor type jobs will be the last if at all to be affected by robotics. Mostly because of the difficulty of having "robotic" equipment handle such variable occupations. It isn't like being on an assembly line. And the cost of creating such equipment that can handle the variables.

So while some jobs will be eliminated. Other jobs may be created. Others will move to a different version of that job in the same or different industry. Other jobs will not be replaceable.

A bunch of worrying about not much. IMO.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Harming the child would be a violation of Asimov's First Law of Robotics.
If the robot had harmed the child, it would therefore be . . . scrapped.
3/29/17, 5:22 PM

Scrapped? You mean put out on the curb for garbage pickup? Why do you think he's there, man?

mr said...

I wonder what the carbon footprint of that tweet-burning robot might be.

Plus: I'm not a robot.

Jonathan Graehl said...

1 industrial robot puts 1.8-3.4 humans into retirement. not sure why they put that as "one more robot per thousand workers reduces the employment to population ratio by about 0.18-0.34 percentage points"

pacwest said...

"A bunch of worrying about not much. IMO."

Possibly. I've seen estimates from a 10M job loss in the US by 2025, to half of all jobs presently held by humans in the US in 20 years. Look at the timeframes. We are not going to have 100 years to shift economies like we did in the industrial revolution. If you believe Kurzweil the pace of GNR is going just going to get more rapid as we go.

Where are the replacement jobs going to come from? The most common answer I see is people are going to climb the information technology ladder and create new jobs. Discounting the poor slobs who don't have the wherewithal to do that it seems to me our new jobs are going to be innovation, and building, repairing and programming the robots. Of course the robots will soon be capable of doing that themselves. With strong AI even the innovation part.

The hyperbolic pace of GNR progress and the dislocation that will cause should be cause for alarm. IMO of course. The singularity is here.

I'm not a robot.

steve uhr said...

You forgot the most important robot news of the week:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-launches-neuralink-to-connect-brains-with-computers-1490642652

Richard said...

After 70 years of automation replacing human workers at a breakneck clip, most Americans are better off today than ever before. Better housing, better cars, better education (or more of it at least), better health and so on.

John Henry


It would think you of all people would be against machines. ☺

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_(folklore)

John said...

For those of you in Madison or otherwise near Chicago, there is a great automation show next week in McCormick Place.

All the latest and greatest in robots and other automation technologies. Well worth a visit. Probably too late now for a free registration but anyone interested in this stuff should spend the $50 or so to get in.

400+ exhibitors, 115,000 square feet.

The same pass will also get you into the ProMat show across the hall for all the latest in warehouse and logistics technology. And more robots.

http://www.automateshow.com/

I was thinking of going but can't make it.

John Henry

John said...

Blogger pacwest said...

Possibly. I've seen estimates from a 10M job loss in the US by 2025, to half of all jobs presently held by humans in the US in 20 years.

If you read industrial history, you will find that for the past couple hundred years people have been predicting massive job losses from automation (under various names). Always about 15-30 years in the future.

Somehow it is always in the future. Never in the now.

It is like the Arctic being ice free because SCIENCE!!! in 1992, then 2003, then 2008, then 2016, now 2020. In 2020 it will be ice free in 2025 or so.

John Henry

John said...

Link to the 13 most interesting things I saw at Automate show in 2015:

ttp://www.packagingdigest.com/automation/13-automation-game-changers-that-ease-engineering-tasks150407

AReasonableMan said...

Thanks to automation coal jobs aren't coming back, despite all the nonsense from Trump.

John said...

College grads can't find jobs or move out of their parents' houses;

Gee, Robert Cook, why do you think that is?

Maybe because they have gone deep into debt to finance a degree that qualifies them to do jack shit? Masters degrees in puppetry and such?

Graduates of the 2 year program at New Richmond were starting, no experience at all, at $100,000 per year.

But even with all that, most Americans are doing far better than they did in 1970.

And what is wrong with gig jobs? I've been unemployed since early 1985 when I took over a sales rep company. Just me and Willy Loman, out there selling with a shoeshine and a smile. Straight commission and I paid all my expenses.

Started doing changeover consulting in the 90's and been doing it full time since I got out of sales in 2007.

I would not trade the past 32 years for anything. I intend to continue doing it for the next 32 or so if God gives me the strength. I love the freedom. I loved the thrill of closing a sale. I love working with interesting people with interesting technologies around the US and around the world. I love the freedom to do what I want to do, not what my boss wants me to do. I love the freedom to work as much or as little as I want.

Most people working in the gig economy love it and feel that they would have a hard time finding a regular job that was better.



John Henry

pacwest said...

You can take Vinge, Kurzweil, and others in regards to the accelerating pace of technological change with a grain of salt, but it looks like what is happening to me. I use it as a premise when talking about GNR.

FWIW, I spent my working life in manufacturing. In 50 years we added a lot of automation. A lot. We even considered going to a "untouched by human hands" process but the ROI was lousy. The workforce stayed pretty much constant. Gross revenue went up many mutiples an profits a bit less than that.

I get what you are saying, and I've heard "in the next 10-20 years" as much as you, but I'm convinced we are at a technological tipping point. I think the big tech companies are operating under this assumption also.

Sayyid said...

"For every robot per thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs"

Bloody math-illiterate journalists. This ratio literally doesn't make sense. It's not even wrong.

For every robot per thousand workers out of a population of how many workers do "up to" (love the weasel-word) six workers lose their job? Are we talking about in a plant with 1,000 workers, so they should really just say "one additional robot means six lost jobs"? Obviously not, or they'd just say that. Are we talking about in the U.S. economy as a whole -- about 123 million workers -- so 123,000 robots means six people country-wide lose their manufacturing jobs? Because if it's the latter, I'd have to imagine that 123,000 robots means more than six robot-repair jobs just opened up.

The Godfather said...

My parents lived through the Depression and WWII. They knew that earning a living was hard and life includes substantial risks. They did their best to transmit that knowledge to their children. Put simply, the lesson was: You have to take care of yourself. Sometime since then newer generations of young people have grown up with the idea that they are entitled to be supported and comforted and endulged. Not all of them of course, but enough that the news is full of stuff like the Yale students who cried because some prof said they should make their own decisions about what costumes to wear on Halloween, the Columbia student who lugged around a mattress for a year because she said she'd been date-raped (and I think got academic credit for it), and so on. I think these youngsters are going to find that the real world is a lot tougher than they've been led to expect. The generation after that will meet the robot challenge.

jaed said...

@John
With new jobs that we don't even think about today.

How will those new jobs be generated if we've harmed the economy by banning (or requiring cutbacks of) automation? That's part of what I mean when I say such measures would harm everyone, but people with less capacity more than those with more.

Bunk said...

I have to point out an advantage of robots not so obvious to laymen. CNC and robotic automation can perform tasks humans can't. Do you like IKEA's furniture? It wouldn't exist without automation. Same thing with Cardiac stents, intra-ocular lenses, and more. Surgical robots (the Da Vinci is most known) can make movements a human doctors hand can't. PC's tablets and smartphones wouldn't exist without robotics either.

Get with the program man! The world we live in is better by magnitudes because of robotics and automation.

pacwest said...

Last one:
I'm not saying bad robots. They are inevitable. GNR is going to improve our lives immeasurably. I'm just saying expect some dislocation. "In 10 or 20 years".

BN said...

Did you know there are people who dream of living the life lived by their own pets?

Because they know--they see--that their pets have it made.

Eat, sleep, eat, sleep. No worries. Robots might turn out to be quite nice.

We need to start working real quick on that code, just a suggestion. Maybe get it in there before the "Else Abort" command.

BN said...

"Do you like IKEA'S furniture?"

No.

But I do like rap music.

gadfly said...

The Vice President didn't cover his support of wind generation which was begun by Governor Daniels which is replacing the coal-fired power plants. Those monstrous generating units are about to become the state tree.

AEP has shut Tanners Creek, near Lawrenceburg. Two Hundred Hoosier miners have been laid-off. It seems that the EPA under Obama were upset with Indiana, which relies on burning coal for electricity more than most states, is, horrors of all horrors, one of the top emitters of carbon dioxide.

Then, of course, our GOP-run state is up to its ears in ethanol plants which make no sense in the world of fracking. Excess costs get added to taxpayers - and farm fertilizer is creating a dead-zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

But the administration is missing the tactic that should be used for future electric needs and dependable, safe, power generation - Thorium molten salt reactors. Talk about a place to spend infrastructure money with a huge payoff! We know how and we are building them for the Chinese.

Bob Loblaw said...

I don't think there is or will be a strong desire for the creation of robots that seamlessly duplicate humans in both form and mind. The uncanny valley is about more than just appearance.

That's certainly true in my case. If the robot is too much like a person I'll feel pathetic - "I don't have any real friends so I'm going to play dress-up with a moving doll."

Bob Loblaw said...

To be fair, most people who work with robots, including myself, have no more idea than a goat what they are either. Is an ATM machine a robot? The gadgets that autonomously schlep stuff around Amazon's and other's warehouses are called robots. Does that make Uber's self-driving car a "robot"?

A "robot" is a machine that doesn't work. If it works, you name it after its function, like a dishwasher or ATM.

JAORE said...

"Then, of course, our GOP-run state is up to its ears in ethanol plants which make no sense in the world of fracking. "

Ethanol - as we require it in 'Merica - doesn't make sense in a world without fracking either.

Rusty said...

nn Althouse said...
"Am I the only one who hated the water heater video because I think a water heater put out by the street like that should be positioned horizontally so it can't fall over and kill a kid?"

We don't know how the video was set up. They may have lifted it verticle in order for the child to hug it.

AReasonableMan said...
"Thanks to automation coal jobs aren't coming back, despite all the nonsense from Trump."

Underground coal mining has been automated for years. There are no humans at the coal face in a modern mine.

Rusty said...

And the Tweet destroying device isn't a robot. It isn't autonomous. Somebody still has to push a button. It is a nice example of 3d printing used to solve a specific problem. Very creative.

Jason said...

Wat? No "Euro Trip" 'Robot Fight' scene?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aMD4uy-QGc

(How strange that I have to check "I am not a robot" in order to post this!)

John said...

rusty,

Suppose the builder added a camera so that when they put the paper on the table the robot would "see" where the paper was and pick it up to burn it? Assume that it still needs a button push to start the cycle.

Now is it a robot or not a robot?

Same device, same camera but now we add a sensor so that when the paper is placed anywhere on the table it is detected and the sensor initiates the camera look, device do cycle. Now is it a robot?

Or suppose we put another device, similar to the first, that on a human pushing a button to start the cycle pushes the button on the original device. Is one a robot and the other not?

There is a company that makes yogurt kiosks using a Yaskawa Motoman articulated arm robot to sell yogurt cones. It is pure robot. But it does nothing until someone swipes a credit card and selects a flavor. Does that mean that this is not a robot?

Yes, I am being a bit silly but I am trying to illustrate that nobody, including roboticists, has any more idea than a goat what a robot is.

My best attempt? Robots are like pornography. I can't define them but I know them when I see them.

John Henry

Rusty said...


Now is it a robot or not a robot?

The things we call "robots" aren't really robots. They require a lot of outside input to get them working. Robot implies autonomy. Very few can think through the problems presented to them. Welding and assembly "robots" have been programmed to follow a preprogrammed path. If there is any deviation from the program they shut down or will break something. If you stand in its way you will be hurt.
Robots that can analyze a situation and then choose from a number of alternatives to in order to solve a problem are still quite a way away.
The things you describe are still automata, but with electricity.
Google "automatic screw machine" and watch a video or two. Are those robots?

Rusty said...

FWIW
Boston Dynamics has the closest thing I've seen to a real robot.