Tag Archives: Robotics

Woodlawn Manufacturing Facility Training Workers In Robotics

CHICAGO (CBS) — Thursday was the grand opening of a high-tech job training and manufacturing facility in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Dr. Byron Brazier, chairman and CEO of the Arthur Brazier Foundation, and a pastor, is behind BSD Industries, or Building Self Determination. He called the manufacturing company a social enterprise. “A robotics training program with an attached manufacturing facility,” he said. Funded with a combination of public and private investment, BSD will manufacture plastic cutlery, with profits benefitting the community.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel toured the factory floor. “This used to be a shoe factory. It’s being reimagined, reinvented to be a place of digital advanced manufacturing; not only making money, but training – every 20 weeks – 20 more workers,” he said. The workers will include public housing residents, who will earn college credit on the job.

San Francisco Supervisor Pushes State Tax On Robots To Slow Automation

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Security guard Eric Leon watches the Knightscope K5 security robot as it glides through the mall, charming shoppers with its blinking blue and white lights. The brawny automaton records video and sounds alerts. According to its maker, it deters mischief just by making the rounds.

Leon, the all-too-human guard, feels pretty sure that the robot will someday take his job.

“He doesn’t complain,” Leon says. “He’s quiet. No lunch break. He’s starting exactly at 10.”

Even in the technology hotbed stretching from Silicon Valley to San Francisco, a security robot can captivate passers-by. But the K5 is only one of a growing menagerie of automated novelties in a region where you can eat a delivered pizza made via automation and drink beers at a bar served by an airborne robot.

Yet, San Francisco is also where workers were the first to embrace mandatory sick leave and fully paid parental leave. Voters approved a $15 hourly minimum wage in 2014, a requirement that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law for the entire state in 2016. And now one official is pushing a statewide “tax” on robots that automate jobs and put people out of work.

It’s too soon to say if the effort will prevail, let alone whether less-progressive jurisdictions might follow suit. The tussle points to the tensions that can flare when people embrace both technological innovation and a strong brand of social consciousness.

Such frictions seem destined to escalate as automation makes further inroads into the workplace. One city supervisor, Norman Yee, has proposed barring food delivery robots from city streets, arguing that public sidewalks should be solely for people.

“I’m a people person,” Yee says, “so I tend to err on the side of things that should be beneficial and safe for people.”

Jane Kim, the city supervisor who is pushing the robot tax, says it’s important to think now about how people will earn a living as more U.S. jobs are lost to automation. After speaking with experts on the subject, she decided to launch a statewide campaign with the hope of bringing revenue-raising ideas to the state legislature or directly to voters.

“I really do think automation is going to be one of the biggest issues around income inequality,” Kim says.

It makes sense, she adds, that the city at the center of tech disruption take up the charge to manage that disruption.

“It’s not inherently a bad thing, but it will concentrate wealth and it’s going to drive further inequity if you don’t prepare for it now,” she says.

“Preposterous” is what William Santana Li, CEO of security robot maker Knightscope calls the supervisor’s idea. His company created the K5 robot monitoring the Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose.

The private security industry, Li says, suffers from high turnover and low pay. As he sees it, having robots handle menial tasks allows human guards to assume greater responsibilities – like managing a platoon of K5 robots – and likely earn more pay in the process.

Li acknowledges that such jobs would require further training and some technological know-how. But he says people ultimately stand to benefit. Besides, Li says, it’s wrong to think that robots are intended to take people’s jobs.

“We’re working on 160 contracts right now, and I can maybe name two that are literally talking about, ‘How can I get rid of that particular human position?'”

The question of whether – or how quickly – workers will be displaced by automation ignites fierce debate. It’s enough to worry Bill Gates, who suggested in an interview early this year a robot tax as a way to slow the speed of automation and give people time to prepare. The Microsoft co-founder hasn’t spoken publicly about it since.

A report last year from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development concluded that 9 percent of jobs in the United States – or about 13 million – could be automated. Other economists argue that the impact will be much less drastic.

The spread of automation should also generate its own jobs, analysts say, offsetting some of those being eliminated. Workers will be needed, for example, to build and maintain robots and develop the software to run them.

Technological innovation has in the past created jobs in another way, too: Work involving new technologies is higher-skilled and typically higher-paying. Analysts say that much of the extra income those workers earn tends to be spent on additional goods and services, thereby creating more jobs.

“There are going to be a wider array of jobs that will support the automation economy,” said J.P. Gownder, an analyst at the research firm Forrester. “A lot of what we’re going to be doing is working side by side with robots.”

What about people who lose jobs to automation but can’t transition to more technologically demanding work?

Lawmakers in Hawaii have voted to explore the idea of a universal basic income to guarantee wages to servers, cooks and cleaners whose jobs may be replaced by machines. Kim, the San Francisco supervisor, is weighing the idea of using revenue from a robot tax to supplement the low wages of people whose jobs can’t be automated, like home health care aides.

Doug Bloch, political director of Teamsters Joint Council 7 in Northern California and northern Nevada, said there have been no mass layoffs among hotel, trucking or food service staff resulting from automation. But that day is coming, he warns.

Part of his responsibility is to make sure that union drivers receive severance and retraining if they lose work to automation.

“All the foundations are being built for this,” he says. “The table is being set for this banquet, and we want to make sure our members have a seat at the table.”

Tech companies insist their products will largely assist, and not displace, workers. Savioke, based in San Jose, makes 3-foot-tall (91 centimeter) robots – called Relay – that deliver room service at hotels where only one person might be on duty at night. This allows the clerk to stay at the front desk, said Tessa Lau, the company’s “chief robot whisperer.”

“We think of it as our robots taking over tasks but not taking over jobs,” Lau says. “If you think of a task as walking down a hall and waiting for an elevator, Relay’s really good at that.”

Similarly, friends Steve Simoni, Luke Allen and Gregory Jaworski hatched the idea of a drink-serving robot one night at a crowded bar in San Francisco. There was no table service. But there was a sea of thirsty people.

“We all wanted another round, but you have to send someone to leave the conversation and wait in line at the bar for 10 minutes and carry all the drinks back,” Allen says.

They created the Bbot, a box that slides overhead on a fixed route at the Folsom Street Foundry in San Francisco, bringing drinks ordered by smartphone and poured by a bartender – who still receives a tip. The bar is in Kim’s district in the South of Market neighborhood.

Simoni says the company is small and it couldn’t shoulder a government tax. But he’s glad policy makers are preparing for a future with more robots and automation.

“I don’t know if we need to tax companies for it, but I think it’s an important debate,” he says.

As for his trio, he says: “We’re going to side with innovation every time. Innovation is what moves the world forward.”

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

The Family That Builds Robots Together …

(CBS) — In the basement of Dyett High School they’re coming together, with tiny robotics, wheels and lifts: kids and their parents. It’s a real transformer, CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports. Welcome to the Chicago Public Schools’ Robomatic Summer Camp, where students learn the basics of robotics, often with parents by their side. In a competition Thursday, the three Simpson kids and their dad finished in first place. “We are always side by side, elbow to elbow,” Ricky Simpson says. Lorenzo Craig, the district’s 21st century learning specialist, came up with the idea. He says he noticed fewer minorities at robotics competitions and wanted to change that. Involving parents, Craig says, helps the whole family’s interest in science and technology and the engineering jobs of tomorrow. The camp, which serves over two dozen students, continues for the rest of the summer.

Burundi Robotics Team Missing After Washington D.C. Competition

WASHINGTON (CBS News) — Six teenage members of the Burundi robotics team were reported missing after competing in an international competition this week in Washington. Police later confirmed to CBS News that two of the missing teens were seen crossing into Canada and that there was no indication of foul play. Police tweeted missing person fliers Wednesday asking for help finding the teens last seen in the area of the FIRST Global Challenge around the time of Tuesday’s final matches. The missing team members include two 17-year-old girls and four males ranging in age from 16 to 18. The competition, designed to encourage youths to pursue careers in math and science, attracted teams of teenagers from more than 150 nations. A squad of girls from Afghanistan drew the most attention after they were twice rejected for U.S. visas and President Trump intervened. Competition organizers learned Tuesday night that the team’s mentor couldn’t find the six students who participated in the competition and organization President Joe Sestak made the initial call to the police, according to a FIRST Global Challenge statement. “Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global,” organizers said, noting that they ensure students get to their dormitories after the competition by providing safe transportation to students staying at Trinity Washington University. The students “are always to be under close supervision of their adult mentor and are advised not to leave the premises unaccompanied by the mentor.” The mentor said the teens traveled from Burundi for the competition and have one-year visas, according to police reports. The mentor said they disappeared after the competition, but he doesn’t know where they went. The reports say police tried to contact one missing teen’s uncle but got no response. The reports state police canvassed DAR Constitution Hall, where the competition was held. The competition’s webpage about Team Burundi shows the six team members posing with a flag and says team members were selected from schools in Bujumbura, the capital city. The team’s slogan in Kirundi is “Ugushaka Nugushobora,” meaning “where there is willing is also the ability,” according to the page. Police tweeted images of the teens Wednesday, saying they are looking for 17-year-old girls, Audrey Mwamikazi and Nice Munezero; 18-year-old men, Richard Irakoze and Aristide Irambona; Kevin Sabumukiza, 17; and Don Ingabire, 16. Police told CBS News on Thursday that Audrey and Don were seen crossing into Canada. Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in Burundi since April 2015 following a failed coup attempt, according to the United Nations, and rights groups accuse Burundi’s security forces of carrying out serious rights abuses, including killings and disappearances. Burundi’s government often dismisses the allegations, saying they are based on false information supplied by the regime’s opponents.

Afghan Girls Robotics Team Arrives In US Just In Time

WASHINGTON (AP) — Twice rejected for U.S. visas, an all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan arrived in Washington early Saturday after an extraordinary, last-minute intervention by President Donald Trump. The six-girl team and their chaperone completed their journey just after midnight from their hometown of Herat, Afghanistan, to enter their ball-sorting robot in the three-day high school competition starting Sunday in the U.S. capital. Awaiting them at the gate at Washington Dulles International Airport were a U.S. special envoy and Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib, who described it as a rare moment of celebration for his beleaguered nation. “Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all,” Mohib said in an interview. “They represent our aspirations and resilience despite having been brought up in a perpetual conflict. These girls will be proving to the world and the nation that nothing will prevent us from being an equal and active member of the international community.”
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Afghan teenagers from the Afghanistan Robotic House take pictures with a mobile phone at Herat International Airport on July 13, 2017, before embarking for the United States. ( credit – Hoshang Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images)

In the short time since their visa dilemma drew global attention, the girls’ case has become a flashpoint in the debate about Trump’s efforts to tighten entrance to the U.S., including from many majority-Muslim countries. Afghanistan isn’t included in Trump’s temporary travel ban, but critics have said the ban is emblematic of a broader effort to put a chill on Muslims entering the U.S. The girls’ story has also renewed the focus on the longer-term U.S. plans for aiding Afghanistan’s future, as Trump’s administration prepares a new military strategy that will include sending more troops to the country where the U.S. has been fighting since 2001. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday the strategy was moving forward but “not finalized yet.” Trump’s personal intervention earlier in the week using a rare “parole” mechanism to sidestep the visa system ended a dramatic saga in which the team twice traveled from their home in western Afghanistan through largely Taliban-controlled territory to Kabul, where their visa applications were denied twice. The U.S. won’t say why the girls were rejected for visas, citing confidentiality. But Mohib said that based on discussions with U.S. officials, it appears the girls were rebuffed due to concerns they would not return to Afghanistan. It’s a fate that has beset many Afghans seeking entry to the U.S. in recent years as continuing violence and economic challenges lead many to seek asylum in America, or to travel through the U.S. to Canada to try to resettle there. As their case gained attention, Trump intervened by asking National Security Council officials to find a way for them to travel, officials said. Ultimately the State Department, which adjudicates visa applications, asked the Homeland Security Department to let them in on “parole,” a temporary status used only in exceptional circumstances to let in someone who is otherwise ineligible to enter the country. The U.S. granted parole after determining that it constituted a “significant public benefit.”
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In this photograph taken on July 2, 2017, teenagers from the Afghanistan Robotic House, a private training institute, work on a robot at the Better Idea Organization center in Herat. ( credit – Hoshang Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images)

Ambassador Alice Wells, the acting U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, downplayed concerns that the girls might use the parole to stay in the U.S. or go to Canada. As she drove to the airport to greet the girls, she said by phone that they were proud to represent Afghanistan and “proud to return to be role models to others around them.” Competing against entrants from more than 150 countries, the girls will present a robot they devised that can recognize blue and orange and sort balls into correct locations. They’ll also be feted at a hastily arranged reception at the Embassy of Afghanistan attended by supporters who had petitioned the U.S. to let them in. The Taliban, ousted by the U.S.-led coalition in 2001, denied schooling to girls when they ruled the war-torn country. Wells said that since 2002, the number of Afghan children attending school has increased from about 900,000 — virtually all boys — to 9 million today including 40 percent girls. “We’re looking to ensure that Afghanistan continues its trajectory to stabilizing politically and economically,” Wells said. “It’s young women like these that are going to be the future of Afghanistan.” (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

My Speech to The Canadian Senate Committee as an Open Letter to Every Government

My Speech to The Canadian Senate Committee as an Open Letter to Every Government

Here is the edited speech I gave to the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, and I would turn to every government or parliament eager to reform healthcare through technology with similar advices. I hope that more and more regulatory actors will pay attention to the winds of change.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee. I’m honoured to get…

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Smart Robot Drones Developed to Dominate More Than Just the Sky

Smart Robot Drones Developed to Dominate More Than Just the Sky

PALO ALTO (KPIX) — Next-generation smart drones are so small and versatile they can stick to a wall for hours while doing surveillance.

The U.S. military already uses drones that can fly hundreds of feet high to give soldiers a bird’s-eye view of the combat zone. For a drone to hover and stay above a particular point uses up a lot of battery charge. But if that drone could perch on a wall, it…

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11 New Jobs in the Future of Healthcare and Medicine – Part II.

11 New Jobs in the Future of Healthcare and Medicine – Part II.

The question is not whether disruptive technologies will transform the healthcare job market, but rather how and when will it happen. Healthcare navigators, augmented/virtual reality operation planners and nanomedicine engineers in the second part of my article series about future jobs in healthcare.

As I am certain that the huge waves of technological change transform the medical professional…

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The Technological Future of Surgery

The Technological Future of Surgery

The future of surgery offers an amazing cooperation between humans and technology, which could elevate the level of precision and efficiency of surgeries so high we have never seen before.

Will we have Matrix-like small surgical robots? Will they pull in and out organs from patients’ bodies?

The scene is not impossible. It looks like we have come a long way from ancient Egypt, where doctors…

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