Sustain Weekly — Dear Robot, HuHu Ha Ha Hu Hu
“The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing” — Isaac Asimov
Welcome to the leap year. We all gained a day to make a change. So, let’s not waste this day. Carpe Diem folks. Last week, I wrote mostly about Smartphone addiction and mindfulness. I also included a few interesting sustainable technology news and links in that weekly. Check it out in case you missed it.
Then, during the week, I read an article on the launch of the next generation Atlas — the robot from the Boston Dynamics lab of Alphabet (Google parent). The robot was operated indoors and outdoors and even handled tricky terrains. It even took a beating. Pushed front and back!
Did you feel sorry for the bot? — Interesting!
Plenty of articles were written on how these robots are going to steal your jobs. That’s weird. They don’t make decisions like that. It’s the big corporations who are going to use robots to replace you.
Also, just stating the obvious, I don’t think a robot will pick your job if given a choice. Which fully automated super intelligent machine will want to do the kind of work and labor we put ourselves. Imagine how robots will handle office politics and discuss traffic and weather in office with colleagues.
So, what jobs are they taking away?
Robotics is the next scientific frontier for humans. But it’s not new to us. There is already an established market for robotics in some advanced environments. Robotics and software is eating away into every single industry. Take agriculture for instance. Completely automated farms have emerged in Japan. It’s easily understandable why Japan is the early hub for robotic influence in farms. First of all, Japan has an ageing farming population. There is a challenge to find suitable successors to maintain farming processes.
So, farmers have been substituting labor with increased use of machinery. This has become more of a necessity now and thus a driver for growth for robotics. 2) Rice, being Japan’s major crop and ~48% of farm output, is highly mechanized and will continue to do so. 3) Urban areas have picked up agriculture. farm output in the cities are on the rise. Urban farmers are 1/4th of farmers in Japan. This will further fuel the market for robotics. After all, it is the land of the Giant Robo.
So, if you’re not feeling sad for them, do you fear them?
The fear that robots will take over is legit and if they do, we’d have caused it. We’re teaching them Alice in Wonderland for them to understand human emotions. Facebook is doing that!
So, if they gain enough intelligence and be truly autonomous, then — you’re the one going into the rabbit hole.and that’s when Elon Musk will say ‘I told you so’
The Tesla CEO thinks the fear is real and has formed the Open AI non-profit team with $1 billion that wants to keep AI safe for humans.
So then, do you hate them?
At least not at this point of time. Companies are already making robots that provide assistive comfort to senior citizens. Pet robotics is a significant market or will emerge to be. Tactile sensors help build healing robotic pets. Basic coos and purrs are easy for touch based interactivity. Hasbro already makes three variations of robot cats that look pretty real. While many of us are thinking this might be sad, it might also be smart. In an assisted set up, the pet robot could not only give you comfort but could also read vital signs. In the future, I expect these pet robots to be embedded with facial recognition that could read, measure and transmit happiness levels to both family and healthcare institutions.
So, will the future will be full of robots?
Most likely. Will that cause an existential threat? — Yes. We develop super human intelligence and then expect that no one will go one extra mile and program an additional function and push the boundary, then that’s short sightedness.
But living in that fear and curb development is regressive. Therefore, we have to love them and co-exist. Future of robotics is inevitable.Also, if you are a robot and reading this and are offended by my sketch, you should know that I was merely explaining the irony that is facing us humans.
A few sus-tech news I found interesting last week
- Bonobo monkeys know when they are unfairly treated. This they do by seeing how others are treated and then compared with how they are treated. They shriek just like us to elicit help from third party or to discourage the aggressor.
- Also, wild gorillas make and hum happy songs when they eat. A few animals including chimps and bonobos do it too, but gorilla songs are recently evidenced. Our cousins are awesome.
- Single use coffee pods are banned in Hamburg. A supermarket opened Denmark that sells only expired food. France issued a law that forces big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities. Europe leads the way in food sustainability.
- Facebook rolled out love, haha, wow, sad, angry emoticons. Oatmeal’s comic response. Now, you can’t be mindless on liking away everything. You have to apply intelligence on which one to like and love. Boyfriends beware — always wow it. Don’t be a rookie and just like it.
- Smartwatch shipments exceeded Swiss watches for the first time. That didn’t take long. Technology is disrupting Fast Fashion. But fashion is not about utility. Finely crafted Swiss watches might be rare but can exist.
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