The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) cites that between 2010 and 2016, 136,748 robots were shipped to the US —the most in any seven-year period in the US robotics industry. At the same time, US manufacturing employment increased by 894,000 and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8% to 4.7%.
CBS News, and reporter David Pogue, displayed some new technologies threatening jobs, while the International Federation of Robotics suggested that deploying robots actually increases jobs. Are either true? Or both?
In my previous post I argued that a wide range of AI and Autonomous Systems (from now on I will just use the term AS as shorthand for both) should be regarded as Safety Critical. I include both autonomous software AI systems and hard (embodied) AIs such as robots, drones and driverless cars. Many will be surprised that I include in the soft AI category apparently harmless systems such as search engines. Of course no-one is seriously inconvenienced when Amazon makes a silly book recommendation, but consider very large groups of people. If a truth (such as global warming) is – because of accidental or willful manipulation – presented as false, and that falsehood is believed by a very large number of people, then serious harm to the planet (and we humans who depend on it) could result.
Let’s assume, for a moment, that the vision I’ve laid out in this blog is ridiculously successful, and, over the next few decades, robotic devices take over all aspects of tending land and crops and handling material inputs and produce, and do it using increasingly sustainable practices that begin the process of retaining and enhancing biological diversity and reviving overworked soils. What’s left for farmers to do? Will there even be a need for humans on farms?
By investing $6 million in robots, Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) was able to take back 10% of their manufacturing from China and place it into a new factory in Manning, South Carolina employing 140 new workers.
We tend to assume that automation is a process that continues – that once some human activity has been automated there’s no going back. That automation sticks. But, as Paul Mason pointed out in a recent column that assumption is wrong.
A recent article in The Washington Post by Morgan Stanley strategist and author of “The Rise and Fall of Nations” Ruchir Sharma, provides a nuanced overview of the issues of jobs, robots, productivity and income disparity.
In the last six years, (2010–2015), according to the IFR (International Federation of Robotics), US industry has installed around 135,000 new industrial robots. The principal driver is automation in the car industry. During this same period, (2010–2015), the number of employees in the automotive sector increased by 230,000.
Craft brewing could be the perfect industry for collaborative robots. But, does automation mean losing your artisan status? We find how craft breweries can use robotics to scale-up their business without compromising on quality.
In Darmstadt, Germany, European Space Agency (ESA) teams are scrambling to confirm contact with the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), Schiaparelli—the spectre of Philae still haunting the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC). Whether or not ESA ever speak to Schiaparelli again, the risky business of space robotics is once more laid bare.
In our final interview in The Robot Economy series, we speak with Mady Delvaux, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Chair of the Working Group on robotics. Mady has written an extensive draft report “Civil Law Rules on Robotics,” and proposes the creation of a legal framework for automation and ways to promote European industry.