Robots are taking over the world. It’s a concept that’s both interesting and scary to think about.
In the past, we have explored jobs that robots cannot steal from humans. but what about the other side of the spectrum? Are there any jobs where automation and precision are so valuable that robots really deserve are there more than humans?
Of course. Some of these jobs are obviously perfect for robots: assembly lines, batch counting, data processing, even cash registers. But there are a few job markets where replacing humans with robots isn’t such an obvious move, but makes a lot of sense if you think about it.
Not sure if robots will ever be more than gimmicks? Check out these revolutionary must-see humanoid machines.
Just a month ago, an American home improvement chain called Lowe’s used its first robot in one of its stores in San Jose, California. His name is OSHbot, he is five feet tall, speaks English and Spanish, communicates with customers and is always available on the floor for help.
«It’s not just robots for robots’ sake or a marketing gimmick,» insists Keel Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs.
The key to the robot-human interface is that it’s embodied, according to Philip Solis, a robotics expert at ABI Research. «You’re moving towards something that you can interact with more — you can ask it for information and it can answer you.»
Mr Solis estimates that the OSHbot is worth roughly $150,000 (£95,319, €120,200), though the unit’s value will decrease as the market matures.
HT: BBC News
OSHbot has constant access to the store’s full inventory and always knows what’s in stock, what’s out of stock, and where to find everything. It also features a 3D scanner that can identify screws, hinges, etc. — a useful feature when customers want more of a particular item but don’t know what it’s called.
No sales assistant knows the exact state of stock in the store. OSHbot not only knows, but can transmit this information almost instantly. This constant database access has implications for future features as well.
For example, services like Next Glass and Pandora can already make personalized recommendations for users based on their current tastes. As long as the right databases are maintained, it shouldn’t be too hard to see bots like OSHbot making recommendations to users on the fly.
At this point, trading partners will have no advantage over their machine counterparts.
Research and data analysis
While we’re talking about database access, let’s talk about Watson and Ross.
In 2005, IBM began developing an artificially intelligent computer named Watson that received and processed over 4 terabytes of encyclopedic knowledge. In 2011, Watson appeared on Jeopardy and won by beating two legendary former winners.
A group of students from the University of Toronto then took Watson and set him up for a different field: instead of feeding him a bunch of general minutiae, they fed her legal papers, court cases, and pieces of legislation. This Watson clone is called Ross and will be used as a lawyer in a Toronto law firm over the next few years.
Here’s how Ross’s creators say it works: You ask him a legal question and he spits out an answer, referring to the legal case, providing some relevant evidence and a percentage indicating how confident Ross is that he got it right. If a new case comes into the database that might be relevant to your issue, Ross will know about it right away and alert you on your smartphone, possibly when you go to court.
“When we don’t have time, we just say it’s Siri’s lawyer,” says Jimo Ovbiagele, 21, a software engineer on the Ross team, of Apple’s iPhone conversational concierge program. He adds that «Watson is a lot smarter than Siri.»
HT: Globe and mail
Summarizing findings from a pool of data has long been a human-only endeavor, but Watson and Ross argue that it may not be that long.
Last year, Bank of America began installing next-generation ATMs that can connect customers to live tellers via a video screen. In addition to normal ATM operations, these live tellers can perform most of the traditional bank teller operations, such as checkable deposits.
This is convenient for customers, but bank tellers are not too happy with them:
Shalom, 20, claims the machines are threatening the cashier’s job in favor of cheaper labor at call centers in Delaware or Jacksonville, Florida.
“Part of my job is building strong relationships and being able to recommend quality products,” Shalom told ABCNews.com. «I don’t think you can do it through a video screen when you never get to know the client and the client will never get to know you.»
Tara Burke, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, denies that ATMs with video tellers will destroy the classic teller. “We do not plan to replace meters. We are not cutting jobs,” Burke said.
HT: ABC News
It’s not clear if these video ATMs will truly become obsolete as the traditional bank teller, but even if they don’t, there’s another threat on the horizon. What if all cashiers were replaced by physical robots?
Like the aforementioned OSHbot, these robo cashiers will have instant access to databases and accounts, allowing for faster service and fewer errors. Robots are also trustworthy because they don’t have an innate tendency to steal or cheat (which is not the case with humans).
How about a classic bank robbery scenario? Robots do not have an innate fear of death, which means armed thieves cannot force them to give up money. In this case, precisely because the robots not people, they make them the best candidates for the job.
Taxi and transport on demand
Have you heard about the self-propelled Google car How self-propelled ? This is an exciting development that has great potential to change transportation forever. : Less accidents, less time on the road, less environmental impact, and it frees you from having to do anything else while the car is driving itself.
But a self-driving car isn’t much to celebrate on its own. I wonder how these cars will affect society on a larger scale. For example, consider what city life would be like if none owned a private car and all the cars on the road were akin to self-driving taxis.
Now it seems that services like Uber made the concept of taxi obsolete, but if Google continues to push the boundaries and sticks to the idea of self-driving taxis, transportation in general could change forever for the better.
When the taxi pulls up to the curb, the first question is: «Where are you going?» When Google launches a self-driving car fleet in its city, if it’s tied to Google Now, it won’t need to ask. He will know that you have to be at work in 30 minutes. He learns that on Sunday afternoon you will go to the market for groceries. And he’ll know you’re going to karaoke for Susan’s birthday on Saturday. It will know where to go if you don’t look up the address on your phone.
And, like all Google, it will learn. Cars can potentially find models among customers who use the service all the time. Vehicles can be assembled near users during peak periods. Suddenly waiting seven minutes for Uber or Lyft would be ridiculous. Google’s self-driving car will be there half the time because it already knows you want to drive. Not only you, he will know when everyone wants to ride. He will know where to be always. Because every time you use Google, it finds out, and that information can leak into your travels.
HT: Next Network
This kind of “car hive” is the true lifeblood of the self-driving car. When cars start talking to each other cars will talk to each other one day cars will talk to each other one day that’s when we’ll see huge changes in everyday life as we know them — and when society moves towards the Internet of Things, it’s nothing short of inevitable.