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Robots to be controlled by human minds

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London:  A robot that can be controlled with your thoughts and brain signals has been developed, says a new research.

The robot is developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Switzerland. The robot can be controlled remotely through brain signals and can perform various tasks.

The team of researchers, headed by professor Jose Del R. Millain, particularly had disabled people in mind while working on the concept to restore a sense of independence to the disabled.

Nine disabled people and ten healthy people in Italy, Germany and Switzerland took part in the task of piloting a robot with their thoughts.

For several weeks, each of the subjects put on an electrode-studded hat that are capable of analysing their brain signals. Then, they instructed the robot to move, transmitting their instructions in real time via internet from their home country.

By virtue of its video camera, screen and wheels, the robot, located in an EPFL laboratory in Switzerland, was able to film as it moved while displaying the face of the remote pilot via Skype. The person at the control, as if moving in place of the robot, was able to interact with whoever the robot crossed paths with.

“Each of the nine subjects with disabilities managed to remotely control the robot with ease after less than 10 days of training,” said Millain.

The brain-machine interface developed by the researchers goes even further.

The robot is able to avoid obstacles by itself, even when it is not told to. To avoid getting overly tired, the pilot can also take a break from giving indications.

If it doesn’t receive more indications, the robot will continue on the indicated path until it receives the order to stop.

The tests revealed no difference in piloting ability between healthy and disabled subjects.

In the second part of the tests, the disabled people with residual mobility were asked to pilot the robot with the movements they were still capable of doing, for example by simply pressing the side of their head on buttons placed nearby.

They piloted the robot just as if they were uniquely using their thoughts.

“Will robots soon become a fact of daily life for people suffering from a disability? Too soon to say,” Milan said.

“For this to happen, insurance companies will have to help finance these technologies,” he added.

The findings were published in a special edition of Proceedings of the IEEE.

(IANS)

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Will Robots Take Your Job? 70 Per cent of Americans Say No

A report issued by the education company Pearson, Oxford University, and the Nesta Foundation found that just one in five workers are in occupations that will shrink by 2030

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A robot carries boxes at the Amazon Fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, N.J (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (VOA)

Washington, October 8, 2017 : Most Americans believe their jobs are safe from the spread of robots and automation, at least during their lifetimes, and only a handful says automation has cost them a job or loss of income.

Still, a survey by the Pew Research Center also found widespread anxiety about the general impact of technological change. Three-quarters of Americans say it is at least “somewhat realistic” that robots and computers will eventually perform most of the jobs currently done by people. Roughly the same proportion worry that such an outcome will have negative consequences, such as worsening inequality.

“The public expects a number of different jobs and occupations to be replaced by technology in the coming decades, but few think their own job is heading in that direction,” Aaron Smith, associate director at the Pew Research Center, said.

The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2005, is the author of a 2017 study looking at the spread of automation and robotics in the workplace.

ROBOTS
The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2005, is the author of a 2017 study looking at the spread of automation and robotics in the workplace (VOA)

More than half of respondents expect that fast food workers, insurance claims processors and legal clerks will be mostly replaced by robots and computers during their lifetimes. Nearly two-thirds think that most retailers will be fully automated in 20 years, with little or no human interaction between customers and employers.

Americans’ relative optimism about their own jobs might be the more accurate assessment. Many recent expert analyses are finding less dramatic impacts from automation than studies from several years ago that suggested up to half of jobs could be automated.

Skills will need to be updated

A report issued by the education company Pearson, Oxford University, and the Nesta Foundation found that just one in five workers are in occupations that will shrink by 2030.

Many analysts increasingly focus on the impact of automation on specific tasks, rather than entire jobs. A report in January from the consulting firm McKinsey concluded that less than 5 percent of occupations were likely to be entirely automated. But it also found that in 60 percent of occupations, workers could see roughly one-third of their tasks automated.

That suggests workers will need to continually upgrade their skills as existing jobs evolve with new technologies.

Few have lost jobs to automation

Just 6 percent of the respondents to the Pew survey said that they themselves have either lost a job or seen their hours or incomes cut because of automation. Perhaps not surprisingly, they have a much more negative view of technology’s impact on work. Nearly half of those respondents say that technology has actually made it harder for them to advance in their careers.

ALSO READ Are Robots Going To Take My Job? The War Between Man and Machine

Contrary to the stereotype of older workers unable to keep up with new technology, younger workers — aged 18 through 24 — were the most likely to say that the coming of robots and automation had cost them a job or income. Eleven percent of workers in that group said automation had cut their pay or work hours. That’s double the proportion of workers aged 50 through 64 who said the same.

The Pew survey also found widespread skepticism about the benefits of many emerging technologies, with most Americans saying they would not ride in a driverless car. A majority are also not interested in using robots as caregiver for elderly relatives.

Self-driving cars

Thirty percent of respondents said they think self-driving cars would actually cause traffic accidents to increase, and 31 percent said they would stay roughly the same. Just 39 percent said they thought accidents would decline.

More than 80 percent support the idea of requiring self-driving cars to stay in specific lanes.

The survey was conducted in May and had 4,135 respondents, Pew said. (VOA)

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Are Robots Going To Take My Job? The War Between Man and Machine

Robots are getting better and better at performing jobs that were once done by humans. Is your job next?

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In the current age of technology, the need is to look for a robot-proof career.
With advancement in technology, it is becoming evident that computers, machines and robots are going to be able to do most routine, repetitive jobs. Pixabay
  • There are many things that a robot can do, and many that they simply can’t
  • Researchers predict that the entire professional landscape will be replaced by robots in next 20 years
  • Jobs with high levels of flexibility and interpersonal communication predicted to be safe from mechanized invasion

AUGUST 1, 2017: Man and machine have had a long association. Computers can drive cars now. They undertake scientific experiments in labs. And independently undertake to telemarket, among other things.

What does this mean for us as a society; will robots take our jobs?

As technology advances and computers learn to perform human tasks in lesser time and with greater efficiency than humans themselves, the professional landscape appears to be changing with machines taking over and threatening human job security.

According to global research firm Gartner, one in three jobs that exist today will be ‘converted’ to smart machines, robots, and software by 2025. Robots, it seems are taking over the world and how!

If this trend continues, it is going to be a struggle to find a job and NewsGram will have to publish an article that says “Run for your jobs, the robots are coming!

However, there still remain a combination of traits and jobs that an automated machine will not be able to replace for a long time.

What job is hardest for a robot to do?

Some aspects of a job are easier to automate than others depending upon the job- for example, telemarketing, which has already made the transition to a completely machine-run business.

According to a study by NPR, researchers have recognized 9 possible traits that are hard to be computerized. Among those, cleverness, negotiation, squeezing into small spaces, and helping others ranks high.

While the competition between man and machine stiffens, these are professions where human creativity, subjective judgment, and craftsmanship remain superior to any skill and cannot be matched by a machine,

  1. Healthcare and Medicine

Computers are being increasingly used in the healthcare sector for their technical expertise and data analysis, which has been reasonably automated as per latest robot technology. However, there continue to be aspects of healthcare that machines are simply incapable of the undertaking, like dealing with human psychology, taking tough decisions from incomplete data charts, etc. Machines lack empathy, a trait that forms the basis of the medical industry with patients investing trust in their doctors and reciprocating to their genuine concerns.

Because of their complexity and computing abilities, robots pose a threat of malfunctioning and putting a patient’s life in risk- the reason why it will be safe for humans to find a job in the healthcare sector.

  1. Education

With the advancement of technology, and the coming of online tutoring sites and computer applications, the education landscape has undergone a major change. However, this has not eradicated the need for human teachers. They co-exist with these online education portals, creating material and undertaking classes via the internet.

Their requirement can also not be replaced in the context of the more emotive and objective subjects like music, arts, and literature.  Therefore, education will remain one industry to guarantee job security in this regard.

  1. Culinary arts

Cooking is a combination of crafts and science and poses provocative questions whether the industry can be replaced by robots.

While one school of thought agrees that latest robot technology can ‘duplicate’ any recipe ever devised by mimicking precise human movements, it is largely believed that machines cannot take over culinary industry for their lack of senses- taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing. In this regard, robots continue to be dumb, passive appliances that need instructions to function and lack creativity and experimentation, the foundation of culinary arts.

ALSO READ Robots displace millions of Manufacturing Workers in US: Automation getting Cheaper and more Common

  1. Law making

Placing politics, law, and order in the hands of an automated machine is touted as a suicidal form of anti-humanism for the simple reason that robots cannot think.

Drafting new laws requires taking into account past societal conditions and present, along with attention to the requirement and problem, in addition to strong interpersonal skills. Lawmakers and juries will always need some sense of human discernment to make laws and take judicial judgments, securing the professional legal landscape only for man.

In this regard, artificial intelligence will continue to be just that – artificial.

  1. Journalistic and Creative Writing

Robots cannot process human level of creativity, subjectivity and thus, expression. Good journalism will always be in demand which will be a major roadblock for machines taking over jobs.

While computers can be programmed to put together facts in perfect grammar, what they cannot replace is the human art of storytelling- to hold attention, keep them engrossed, and move the readers emotionally. In this current ‘Age of Content’, good writing has become an extremely profitable commodity. Interesting pieces that dig deep into the story and compel readers to read and share multiple times are traits that a machine cannot undertake.

Not on the list but definitely not going to be replaced anytime soon,

  1. Artists (Dancer, musician, painting, singing)
  2. Mental health professionals
  3. Sportsmen
  4. Anthropologists and archaeologists
  5. Social and community servicemen

We hope you have a happy day at work. And if your job isn’t on the list, then you have been warned.

– by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


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Robots displace millions of Manufacturing Workers in US: Automation getting Cheaper and more Common

While some politicians blame trade for the job losses, most economists say automation is mainly to blame as robots do routine factory tasks previously done by humans

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US, April 15, 2017: The impact of automation on U.S. jobs is open to debate. Robots have displaced millions of manufacturing workers, and automation is getting cheaper and more common, raising concerns it will eventually supplant far more workers in the services sector of the economy, which includes everything from truck driving to banking.

University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Ed Hess says we are just starting to see automation’s impact. “It is going to be broad and it is going to be deep,” he said, adding that “tens of millions” of jobs could be at risk.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs have disappeared already.

While some politicians blame trade for the job losses, most economists say automation is mainly to blame as robots do routine factory tasks previously done by humans.

Hess calls self-driving cars and trucks a threat to millions of human jobs, and says fast-food workers are also vulnerable, as companies install electronic kiosks to take restaurant orders. McDonalds says displaced workers will be reassigned to other tasks.

The professor says research shows nearly half of U.S. jobs could be automated, including retail store clerks, doctors who scan X-rays for disease, administrative workers, legal staffers, and middle managers.

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Future of jobs

Starting more than a century ago, advancing technology changed the United States from an agrarian to a manufacturing economy. Displaced farm hands eventually found factory work, but the transition took years. This new transition may also take a time because, Hess says, “We’re not going to anywhere produce the number of jobs that we automate.”

But 50 years of experience in banking shows that while automation may change the industry, it does not necessarily end jobs for humans.

The first Automatic Teller Machines, or ATMs, were installed 50 years ago, and there are now 420,000 in the United States. International Monetary Fund analysis shows the number of human tellers did not drop, but rose slightly.

“Humans were doing mostly service and routine types of tasks that could be converted into more automated tasks,” Tremont Capital Group’s Sam Ditzion said. But “the humans then became far more valuable in customer service and in sales in these branches.”

In a Skype interview, Ditzion said that while automation can be “scary,” the oversight of ATMs created new kinds of work for “tens of thousands of people.”

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Automation grows

A report by Redwood Software and the Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) says surging investment and falling prices will help robotics grow.

Redwood’s software handles business processes that are repetitive, rule-bound and tedious.

CEBR Economist David Whitaker says as growing fleets of robots take over mundane tasks, higher productivity could bring higher wages for some human workers. He says people who want to stay employed must hone skills that robots can’t handle, such as unpredictable work or the need for an emotional human connection.

One example, according to Alex Bentley of Blue Prism software, is a program that helps law firms examine visa applications. The robot enters data but gets help from a human partner with problems such as missing information. Bentley says some human jobs have been lost, but in other cases displaced workers move within the firm to new work, particularly jobs that are “customer-centric.”

U.S. Senator Chris Coons says Germany and other nations use training programs to help their citizens get and keep jobs in a changing economy. The Democrat says America’s competitors invest six times what the U.S. does in skills development and workforce training, while Washington has slashed funding for such programs. Coons and a Republican colleague, Senator Thom Tillis, are seeking more help for schools, companies, workers and government agencies operating programs to upgrade the workforce.

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New opportunities

While workers need to make some changes, philosopher and professor Ed Freeman of UVA’s Darden School of Business says companies also need to rethink their basic purpose. He says businesses must do more than just maximize value for shareholders.

“I need red blood cells to live,” he said. “It doesn’t follow that the purpose of my life is to make red blood cells. Companies need profits to live, it doesn’t follow that the purpose of a company is to make profits. We have to think through this idea about what purpose is in business.”

Freeman says he is “optimistic” because many jobs, such as creating applications for smartphones that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, are creating thousands of opportunities. He is also encouraged by his many students who, he says, bring new ideas, passion and energy to the task of starting businesses that will create new kinds of jobs.

Freeman is convinced that the problem isn’t the tsunami of lost jobs, it is the lack of “really good ideas” for creating a safety net for people who will lose jobs to automation.

Many experts worry about growing levels of automation — particularly advanced forms known as artificial intelligence — hurting employment for U.S. workers.

But U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says it will be “50 or 100 years” before artificial intelligence takes American jobs. In an interview with Mike Allen of AXIOS, Mnuchin said, “I think we are so far away from that, [it is] not even on my radar screen.”
-VOA