Prepared for Robots? – The Well being Care Weblog


After I was younger, robots have been Robby the Robot (Forbidden Planet, and so on.), the unnamed robot in Misplaced in House, or The JetsonsRosey the Robot. Gen X and Millennials would possibly assume as a substitute of the extra malevolent Terminators (which, after all, are literally cyborgs). However Gen Z is probably going to consider the working, leaping, back-flipping Atlas from Boston Dynamics, whose videos have entertained thousands and thousands.

Alas, final week Boston Dynamics introduced IT was discontinuing Atlas. “For nearly a decade, Atlas has sparked our creativeness, impressed the subsequent generations of roboticists and leapt over technical boundaries within the area,” the corporate mentioned. “Now IT’s time for our hydraulic Atlas robotic to chill and calm down.”

The important thing a part of that announcement was describing Atlas as “hydraulic,” as a result of the very subsequent day Boston Dynamics announced a brand new, all-electric Atlas: “Our new electrical Atlas platform is right here. Supported by many years of visionary robotics innovation and years of sensible expertise, Boston Dynamics is tackling the subsequent industrial frontier.” Furthermore, the corporate brags: “The electrical model of Atlas will likely be stronger, with a broader vary of movement than any of our earlier generations.”

The introductory video is astounding:

Boston Dynamics says: “Atlas might resemble a human kind issue, however we’re equipping the robotic to maneuver in essentially the most environment friendly method potential to finish a process, reasonably than being constrained by a human vary of movement. Atlas will transfer in ways in which exceed human capabilities.”

They’re proper about that.

CEO Robert Playter told Evan Ackerman of IEEE Spectrum: “We’re going to launch IT as a product, focusing on industrial functions, logistics, and locations which can be way more numerous than the place you see Stretch—heavy objects with advanced geometry, in all probability in manufacturing kind environments.”

He went on to elaborate:

That is our third product [following Spot and Stretch], and one of many issues we’ve discovered is that IT takes far more than some fascinating Technology to make a product work. You need to have an actual use case, and you must have actual productiveness round that use case {that a} buyer cares about. All people will purchase one robotic—we discovered that with Spot. However they gained’t begin by shopping for fleets, and also you don’t have a enterprise till you possibly can promote a number of robots to the identical buyer. And also you don’t get there with out all this different stuff—the reliability, the service, the mixing.

The corporate will work with Hyundai (which, ICYMI, owns Boston Dynamics). Mr. Playter says Hyundai “is actually enthusiastic about this enterprise; they need to remodel their manufacturing they usually see Atlas as a giant a part of that, and so we’re going to get on that quickly.”

The corporate additionally introduced Orbit™, software program “which gives a centralized platform to handle your total robotic fleet, web site maps, and digital transformation knowledge.” IT declared: “With a strong group of ML consultants shaping our merchandise, we’re ready to carry impactful AI to market instantly—we’ve already began with Spot, and IT will get even higher and sooner with Atlas.”

Talking of AI, maybe misplaced within the Atlas buzz, final week Mantee Robotics got here out of two years of stealth mode to announce MenteeBot, which the corporate”>described as “an end-to-end humanoid robotic with adequate dexterity for a large spectrum of actions in each households and industrial warehouses.”  By “end-to-end” they imply AI-driven.  

The corporate expects a family model and a warehouse model, with a prototype anticipated in 1Q 2025.

And, after all, there are quite a few different firms racing to get humanoid (and different) robots into our lives, together with Agility Robotics, Figure, NVIDIA, and, in its spare time, Tesla. A technique or one other, prepare for robots in our lives and workplaces – in the event that they’re not already there.

New research confirms that, even when robots don’t take your job, they make staff much less completely satisfied.  “Our key discovering is that robots hurt work meaningfulness and autonomy,” the authors say.  The important thing to mitigating that’s to provide staff management over the robots, which, after all, runs opposite to having them be AI-driven. Anticipate some sad staff.  

An fascinating perspective comes from Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, writing in The Verge: Maybe I don’t want a Rosey the Robot after all.

“The query,” she says, “is ought to we be working towards an all-capable, bipedal, human-like bot to take on a regular basis chores off our fingers? The extra I take into consideration IT — and the extra robots I’ve roaming round my house — the extra I believe the reply is not any. We don’t want a robotic that understands what we are saying and might replicate our actions; we want robots that do one job (or perhaps two associated Jobs) and do them nicely.”

As she factors out, “when my self-emptying dishwasher breaks, I can responsibly recycle IT and get a brand new one. When my humanoid robotic housekeeper reaches the tip of its firmware updates, I’ll need to put IT out to pasture.” That, she worries, “brings with IT a complete host of sophisticated challenges across the nature of consciousness and the boundaries of humanity.” 

That kinds of put the “retirement” of the unique Atlas in a special perspective, doesn’t IT?

If we’re going to have all these robots dwelling with us, we higher take note of how we socialize them. A new paper argues that IT is individuals who make robots social, not programming.

“If we need to perceive what makes a robotic social, we now have to have a look at the broader scope of the communities round robots and other people’s interactions with one another,” said Malte Jung, co-author and Cornell affiliate professor. “IT’s not nearly programming a greater character for the robotic, making IT reply higher to human social options, making IT look cuter or behaving extra naturally.”

Take that in: we’re to the purpose we have to fear about socializing robots.

AI is infiltrating our lives sooner than we understand and in methods we don’t understand the implications of but, and that’s going to occur with robots too.  Whether or not we’re prepared or not.

Kim is a former emarketing exec at a serious Blues plan, editor of the late & lamented, and now common THCB contributor

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