A 16-minute overview. It has a bit of snark, but overall is good. Speaking of which, Toyota has built a robot that can score more basketball shots than any human player. For its full story, click here. I wish that New York City provided the live subway information that Tokyo does.
They Aren’t Coming for Your Jobs Yet, but Just Want to Dance And an Autonomous Ship will Retrace the Mayflower’s Voyage Speaking of Oceanic Voyages… A traditional ‘King Neptune’ certificate from August, 1944, as my namesake uncle, then a private in the U.S. Marine 3rd Division, crossed the Equator for the first time (at a militarily “censored” latitude) aboard the Dutch freighter Bloemfonteim, on the way to an amphibious landing at the Battle of Guam. When in 1941 the Germany invaded the Netherlands and the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, the ships of the Dutch Navy that escaped joined up with Australian, British, and U.S. navies. The Bloemfonteim became an Allied troopship. I’ve a similar Neptune certificate from 1942 when my father, then a U.S. Navy ensign, crossed the Equator for the first time, aboard the battle cruiser Santa Fe. The 20th Century in Manhattan (as well as the ‘Mad Men’ era) finally ends. No matter how important who think you are, no longer shall ye get ‘power lunches’ at the Four Seasons nor drinks at 21. And the perfect big-screen TV video for ‘Star Wars’ fans who want to feel cozy this winter. And back to robots: South Koreans, showing more acumen than American capitalists., purchase Boston Dynamics. Hyundai paid a reported billion dollars for it. Japan’s Toyota already is the world’s leader in the coming field of household robotics. Hyundai wants to be that for general-purpose worker robotics. Boston Dynamics is far more advanced at this than any other U.S. company.
Here’s an technology story that portends civil unrest in China during the this and the next decade: SHENZHEN, July 29 (Xinhua) — Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, late Friday. The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers, said Gou at a workers’ dance party Friday night. The company currently has 10,000 robots and the number will be increased to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years, according to Gou. Foxconn, the world’s largest maker of computer components which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia, is in the spotlight after a string of suicides of workers at its massive Chinese plants, which some blamed on tough working conditions. The company currently employs 1.2 million people, with about 1 million of them based on the Chinese mainland. For more than 60 years, the Chinese Communist Party has been carefully (some say dictatorially) trying to grow the Chinese economy without creating civil unrest resulting from first industrialization and lately a conversion to a capitalistic economy. How to keep the country fed when farmers are tempted to quit the plows for higher paying factory work? How to keep the factory workers happy without slowing down production or causing economic inflation? Etc. The bloody Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 showed just how close to boiling over social unrest is in the People’s Republic of China. If Foxconn, whose workforce is already anxious (some suicidally so), plans to replace a large number of workers with millions of robots, how soon before other Chinese factories similarly replace their own workers. What will such conversions means to the hundreds of millions of factory workers in China. Unemployment. Perhaps there employee retraining programs will be offered, but for hundreds of millions of workers? And to do what? During the early 1800s in Britain, textile workers who were replaced by machines protested and rioted. They were called Luddites, after a figure from English myth. I wonder what will we call the Chinese software factory workers who will be replaced by robots and who will surely protest and riot?