This random guide robot from Japan, roaming the Innorobo expo, appears either happy or bloodthirsty – I can't decide which. Jetro is looking to move bots of this nature from Japan to the US. A robot-laden future awaits. (Source: Jetro)
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...
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.
pc. (You might want to be a little more P.C. in your public comments. Just a thought.)
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
"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?
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.
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?
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!
"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...
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, 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
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?