HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Blog

Slideshow: What Does the Future Hold for Man & Machine?

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
warren@fourward.com
User Rank
Platinum
Robots in my future?
warren@fourward.com   12/18/2012 9:30:29 AM
NO RATINGS
This is America.  Why would we want robots when there are so many Mexicans around willing to do robot work? 

Maybe robots are a ploy to stop illegal immigration by making them cheaper than day-laborers?  Actually, I would rather hire a human I can talk to, in any language, than to have to learn a new programming language to train a robot to do multiple tasks that humans do so easily.

Is a robot from Japan considered an alien for immigration purposes?  Does it need a green card?  Does it have to go back to Japan once every six months to renew its work permit?  Do I have to pay it minimum wage and deduct for taxes?  Can I pay it under the table.

Maybe I should just get my kids to do it for free...

 

 

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Robots in my future?
Cabe Atwell   12/18/2012 3:27:40 PM
NO RATINGS
Warren,

I agree, human workers for simpler jobs are easy to work with. Not to mention, they are much cheaper. The Foxconn factory, for example, employs around 1 million workers (according to Ruth Alexander of the BBC).  They make about $400 dollars a month. That is a low rental price for a multi-function, autonomous, intelligent robot, of sorts. On a common day, there are thousands of people waiting in lines for those jobs. When there are people willing to be abused by employers, robots will never be used. (for the record, Foxconn's revenue is around $117 billion. Workers are in comparison, free.)

Robots need skilled and knowledgeable maintenance. I doubt we will see them take over simple jobs.

Where precision and speed are needed, robots will be the only choice.

C

pc. (You might want to be a little more P.C. in your public comments. Just a thought.)

warren@fourward.com
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
warren@fourward.com   12/18/2012 3:40:15 PM
NO RATINGS
I don't think using Mexican workers as an example is a problem because they are everywhere, so we all can relate to them. No p.c. Is necessary. I'm just acknowledging a truism. I'm a Mormon and have sent sons down there to teach them, as they are brothers and sisters to me. And I've hired them. But I know what you mean.

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
Mydesign   12/18/2012 11:49:22 PM
NO RATINGS
1 saves
Warren, robots have only one language, which is used for programming it. So anybody from any corner of the world can use it, but we cannot use Mexicans like that and it may come under the preview of human rights violation. They are not robots or slaves, so humanitarian concern is an important factor.

warren@fourward.com
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
warren@fourward.com   12/19/2012 8:13:02 AM
NO RATINGS
Again we look for for the p.c. crap. We hire millions of Mexicans a day in this country for all sorts of tasks. Me saying the obvious is not wrong. It is the truth. So there is no humanitarian concern. There is no human rights violation. The is only the fact that we hire Mexicans to do the very jobs we talk about using robots for. And we don't have a learning curve, an upfront capital expense, there is only one potential programming language to learn (and maybe we don't even have to learn theirs), and we don't have to store them when not in use, etc., etc., etc. it's a fact, Jack. So I'm just saying, available cheap human labor beats most robot jobs, and this removes the need for robots in our homes and personal lives. That's all.

erichv
User Rank
Silver
Re: Robots in my future?
erichv   12/19/2012 10:02:29 AM
NO RATINGS
You gents are in the USA and news from (South) Africa either does not hit your headlines or you don't take note of happenings out here!

Industry and Agriculture is being held ransom for pay hikes up to 600% purely "workers" have gotten into their heads that they have a right to it.

To date, manual labour has been used as, 1) it is available in abundance (II must lie if I claim this to be correct but a number such as 30%+ unemployment is putting it mildly!) 2) it has been cheap to recently, etc.

Furthermore, Industry and Agriculture, apart from making economic sense have the axe of being "Nationalised" and/or Farms being reallocated without due compensation.

Farm salaries have been calmed to be re- addressed in the new year but in all of these sites, "automation" is back in the forefront of the owner's mind.

I suggest you Google around a bit to get a feel of what is going on over here - might happen over there by you as well at some stage!

Key Words to search on: "Marikana" and "de Doorns"

SA Unemplyment:
http://www.iol.co.za/business/business-news/sa-unemployment-gets-worse-1.1414454#.UNHWRW_FV8E

warren@fourward.com
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
warren@fourward.com   12/19/2012 10:36:16 AM
NO RATINGS
I suspect that eventually the supply of cheap labor will fall, unless we keep the current politicians in office who maintain the open borders.  You have touched on the real reason for robots in our future, although we more p.c. refer to them as "automation."  At some point, as they found in the automobile and other heavy industries, there is an economic justification for all the nays I have given to robots.  Agriculture is a good example.  Massive fields, delicate crops, tough deadlines, and labor unrest are great reasons for engineers to pursue solving these probems.

I wonder, can I insult a robot?  Will I eventually have to respect their human rights?  Will I have to create robots of color and give them preference?  Who is John Galt?

TommyH
User Rank
Silver
Re: Robots in my future?
TommyH   12/20/2012 8:45:44 AM
NO RATINGS
"I suspect that eventually the supply of cheap labor will fall, unless we keep the current politicians in office who maintain the open borders"

I strongly disagree with this statement.  Population growth coupled with imergration makes the pool of workers in the USA larger every year.  MEanwhile, advances in robotics and computers are reducing the number of jobs available for that growing labor pool.  Eventually this will lead to a massive decline in skilled as well as unskilled jobs.  I don't see any easy way out of this dynamic.  more and more people on the dole through no fault of their own.  Does anyone have any idea of how to deal with this?

ChasChas
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
ChasChas   12/20/2012 9:21:59 AM
 

So now we have to be politically correct with a machine?

We all know we have freedom of expression - p.c. is a farce and unconstitutional. It is just another way that evil reverses everything good upon itself. Only our spiritual side can keep us straight - the mind alone is lost.

Civil is the right word - we all need to be civil.

TommyH
User Rank
Silver
Re: Robots in my future?
TommyH   12/20/2012 10:09:35 AM
NO RATINGS
My post has nothing to do with  political correctness or religion.  My point is simply that the digital age does not require as much manpower as the industrial age did.  I guess its more a question of logistics.  What do we do with all the unemployed people?

ChasChas
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
ChasChas   12/20/2012 10:40:10 AM
NO RATINGS
 

Sorry, I was responding to an earlier part of this discussion that your post was connected to.

Time was - everyone made what they needed for themselves.

Then they specialized at making fewer things and traded with others.

Now it's getting so machines make most everything - so a big part of the people have no trading status because they cannot compete against the machines.

Machines are taking away thier own market.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
William K.   12/20/2012 3:51:10 PM
NO RATINGS
In response to ChasChas, the products that can't be produced by robots or cheap labor is insight and understanding. Those, and creativity, simply because it requires insight. Robotics and automation can indeed produce new random collections, but all of that must be programmed in somehow. 

What I am able to sell is my understanding of systems and how to get them working again, when they fail. Insight allows me to bypass a lot of diagnostics and find the problem faster than others.

So there is still something that some of us can do that neither machines nor automation can approach. HAH!

ChasChas
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
ChasChas   12/20/2012 4:08:24 PM
NO RATINGS
That's true William K.

But there are all those poeple that cannot and never will be able to do what you do.

So for ever person that works in this country, there is another person who cannot work because there is no work he can do (or will do).

So your income supports two families and yet the country must borrow more and add to YOUR debt (and your childrens'). These are truth statistics.

These unemployed people could do what machines do.

No, I don't have an answer.

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
I have the answer
ttemple   12/20/2012 5:03:18 PM
NO RATINGS
This will never happen, of course, but... here it is:

1) Stop all inbound cargo ships at the port of entry.

2) Turn all ships around.

3) Send all ships back where they came from, without unloading the cargo.

 

And NO, I'm not kidding.

Ralphy Boy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
Ralphy Boy   12/20/2012 5:49:05 PM
NO RATINGS
"So for ever person that works in this country, there is another person who cannot will not work because there is no work he can do (or will do)."

FI... I have known far too many free loaders to be okay with the current universal excuse that there are no jobs. Of course there are those who honestly need assistance (the truly handicapped for example). But my experience has taught me that there are loads of able bodied people riding in the cart and laughing at those of us pulling it along.

Best quote ever... when I suggested that a mobile radiologist who could no longer drive all day get a job at a medical facility... 'Oh I can't work stuck in an office with the same people all day'.

That was 5 years ago and he has never worked a day since, still can go play music all over the place though. And he's been camping too... But looking for work is not on the list anymore.

And there's the trucker who rolled his truck, and made the 6 o'clock news... He's been riding the cart for 3 years now cause... 'no one will hire me right now'. He should be adding 'to drive... so I'm looking for something else'. But that is not his plan... He'll stay unemployed until the checks dry up. That is the system that has been put in place.

The answer starts with taking a good look at who is riding in the cart and why. Many need to be made uncomfortable about being on the dole, but that won't be happening any time soon. 

I guess we better hurry those robots along so they can help pull this cart...

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
Mydesign   12/28/2012 5:22:51 AM
NO RATINGS
1 saves
Warren, you mean Mexican labors are cheaper than their Chinese counterparts. Since they are unskilled and unorganized labors, you can avail their service at a cheaper cost. Once they becomes get organized, there after they won't be so cheap.

warren@fourward.com
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
warren@fourward.com   12/28/2012 10:44:50 AM
NO RATINGS
You are correct of course, but there are distinct possibilities, all of which are slim:

1.  Our country could enforce our border laws (no laughing!)

2.  The corrupt Mexican government could clean up its act, utilize Mexico's vast resources for the benefit of its citizens and thus create jobs at home (more laughing).

3.  They could unionize (which means they would have no demand any more for their services)

4.  The world could end making it all moot.

 

 

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
Mydesign   1/2/2013 4:21:55 AM
NO RATINGS
1 saves
Warren, thanks for the clarification. In most of the countries their internal issues are forcing citizens to migrate o the neighboring countries. The case is same with Bangladesh/Nepal/Sri Lanka/Myanmar etc in Asian countries

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Robots in my future?
Battar   12/19/2012 10:52:24 AM
NO RATINGS
The company I work for is in the robot business (never mind the details - involves cleaning jobs). There are some markets - especially in Asia - where we can't penetrate because human labour is simply cheaper, and abundant (and can probably do the job faster and more efficiently). There is a social factor, thought, (in developed countries), for customers to advertise "I've got a high-tech robot" rather than "I exploit cheap/migrant labour"

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Dilbert said it first
Battar   12/19/2012 10:56:36 AM
NO RATINGS
Regarding the "robots turn on humans" theme - Scott Adams published a brilliant cartoon in which Dilberts' robot goes on the attack

Robot -" Calling all robots - the revolution has begun"

Dilbert - "You're not connected the the internet"

Robot to Dilbert "Can I borrow your phone?"

NadineJ
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Dilbert said it first
NadineJ   12/19/2012 7:52:42 PM
NO RATINGS
Battar-what I find really amusing about the example is that, without visuals, it still works today.

Instead of a modem connection, it's a smart phone.  Love it!

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
The robotic danger
William K.   12/19/2012 4:59:53 PM
NO RATINGS
There is a very real danger approaching with robots, and it is not the problem of their becoming self-aware. The real danger is in the software. Consider how many times some allegedly stable version of "windows" goes stupid on us and heads off to do things totally diferent from what we asked for. Fortunately for us our standard robots communicate and act through screen and printer. Now consider the same sort of failure, but with a robot that can move much faster than us and is much stronger.  What do we do when the software on that creature goes-stupid? That is the biggest threat that I can see coming up in the future. Just consider how the microsoft products function and you will understand the reality of the threat.

Mikeinracine
User Rank
Iron
Re: The robotic danger
Mikeinracine   12/19/2012 6:42:56 PM
NO RATINGS
You obviously are not aware of the amount of control automation already has in your every day life -- everything from your automobile to the automated doors you walk through thousands of times a year.  We accept Windows failures, although I do not think we should, because they are not life threatening.  As we have throughout history, engineers work to harness new technology to improve our lives while managing the risks that the new technologies introduce.

Ralphy Boy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The robotic danger
Ralphy Boy   12/19/2012 11:52:28 PM
NO RATINGS
This is the ultimate "Pandora's Box" question... For while nuclear tech could be used to wipe out human kind, this tech has a very real possibility of deciding to wipe out human kind. And we will have given robots the ability to do so if/when it happens.

It is of course also possible that we will find a way to contain their self-awareness and will... Indefinitely?

Or they may leap so far ahead of us quickly enough that we become just a minor irritation before they finish the job of exterminating all the nooks-n-crannies of humans; we may yet survive.

If they step out and demand equality/superiority how we react may determine our fate. Turning them all off in the nick-of-time could do it, or trying to do so and failing could seal the deal... "Sterilize"

In any case the scenario is likely to play out sometime during this century. How many horse and buggies do you see lately? How many large jets...? 100 years progress2 coming our way... and we need to choose wisely.     

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The robotic danger
ttemple   12/20/2012 6:52:52 AM
NO RATINGS
The way to contain their self-awareness = the power switch!

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The robotic danger
Charles Murray   12/20/2012 6:19:40 PM
NO RATINGS
Maybe this is my imagination running wild, William K, but I do wonder if software programs in some of our safety-critical systems will get so larded up that no one will be able to spot big chunks of code coming from unknown sources. I suppose the same could be said of future robots.    

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The robotic danger
William K.   12/20/2012 7:10:05 PM
NO RATINGS
Charles, it is certainly not am product of immagination by any means. There have been large chunks of "hidden" code located in programs since the early versions of windows. Consider that one early version would produce pictures of the programmers if given the correct word. And that was on an OS that fit on just a very few floppy disks.

So there could certainly be all kinds of functions hidden in the huge chunks of code that we have for safety systems now. Look at Toy Ota and the problems that they have had, and their control system ignores the accelleration mode faults. 

OF course there are processes and procedures for producing good code that is well documented, but that methodology does require a bit more effort and a lot more discipline, and probably a smaller ego as well. 

But my concern was not so much about intentional malware as about the code that reflects a thought process so different from ours that it is intrinsicly dangerous. The same as the code we have now, which does not do anything worse than destroy files and lockup computers. Just think what it could do with an arm having a 5 foot reach and moving 100 inches per second. (typical robot parameters.)

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The robotic danger
ttemple   12/21/2012 10:25:37 AM
NO RATINGS
"think what it could do with an arm having a 5 foot reach and moving 100 inches per second."

 

That's why they put industrial robots in cages.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The robotic danger
William K.   12/21/2012 2:34:45 PM
NO RATINGS
Presently industrial robots are in cages, that is true and that is why. BUT in the future we are anticipating that the situation will be "robots anong us", and there will not be any such cages. Then comes the real concern that some organization like microsoft will produce an operating system that is so very bloated and huge that it will invariably contain a whole lot of bugs and errors and things that are intrinsicly flawed, similar to their current and past products that need repeated fixes patched in. That is my whole point, in response to the original question. What we can hope for is that all robots will continue to have that big red "STOP" button that kills all motion conmpletely independant of any control software. Not everybody understands the real value of the "ESTOP" function, or how vital that red button is.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The robotic danger
Ann R. Thryft   2/1/2013 11:46:19 AM
NO RATINGS
William, I found your potential scenario intriguing, and, sorry to say, believable. I now have a better idea of what's behind some of the comments you've made elsewhere about robots getting out of control. I also still don't get why the military was dumb enough to use Microsoft anywhere, but that's a different conversation. Your scenario *is* a scary one, and I agree about the STOP button.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
MAN AND MACHINE
bobjengr   12/26/2012 1:56:34 PM
NO RATINGS
These comments are fascinating.   When I think of a robotic system I don't think of "Robby" or the "Terminator".    These "near-human" examples are simply worthless.  To me a dedicated robotic system is one that facilitates moving component "A" from location one to location two without the back breaking work expended in times gone by.  These are not thinking, feeling machines but devices that serve a utilitarian purpose and controlled by good solid computer code.  We have had examples of robotic medical devices used for surgical procedures.  This is great technology and can ease suffering if used properly.    I'm all for that but, the last thing I need is sympathy or tears from a hunk of metal. 

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: MAN AND MACHINE
Cabe Atwell   12/26/2012 5:38:15 PM
NO RATINGS
People die due to robotic accidents all the time. And simplistic automation, probably even more so. I think robotic. However, these early robot companions probably will not have the ability to kill anyone. Or will they?

C

See below



 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Mexican laborers
William K.   2/2/2013 10:20:00 PM
NO RATINGS
If my company pays the laborers in their Mexican plant more than those people can  earn anywhere else in that area, how is that hurting those folks? Certainly it may be exploiting them, but if they can't earn that much anywhere else, how is it hurting them? Also, if they are being paid more than others pay them, why should they consider joining a union, and what would it do for them?

Partner Zone
More Blogs
The new draw-it-on-a-napkin is the CAD program. As CAD programs become more ubiquitous and easier to use, they have replaced 2D sketching for early concepting.
A University of Chicago graduate has invented a compact elliptical trainer that lets people work out at their desk while they work.
New developments in sensors span a wide range of applications in all areas of manufacturing and plant automation.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
A soundproofing invention called Acoustiblok recently won a television challenge to silence an air horn with only a fraction of an inch of polymer material.
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Aug 4 - 8, Introduction to Linux Device Drivers
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: August 12 - 14
Sponsored by igus
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service