Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I'm starting to think these articles are clickbait.

Meet Tally: The Grocery Stocking Robot About To Eradicate 1,000's Of Minimum Wage Jobs.

I really get frustrated every time I read one of these articles. People all of a sudden think robots and A.I. is this magical thing that is lurking right behind them. I personally think that we are in a robot and A.I. bubble. That's right. Bubble. 

Will robotics take "some" jobs?  Sure. But people think this is coming faster than it is and the bloggers are just creating fake news.

For example - OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) rolled out one of these types of bots along with Lowes getting close to a year ago, and do you know how many of these I've seen in real life at the store? ZERO point ZERO.

These things are freaking novel when you first see them. But even every single conference I go to has one of them at their conference centers or hotels. They are always sitting idle. Robots don't always do things better than humans. That is just bullshit. People don't fully understand how complicated this technology is and so they just freak out.

I had TWO robotics lawn mowers and frankly I want to dedicate them the technology museum. I mow the lawn the old fashion way.

These articles are literally written by people who have never seen one of these in real life or interacted with one. And as someone who has - these stories are hype! Robots are generally SLOW. Everyone can do stuff faster than a typical robot. For grocery stocking - I bet not being quick kills this.


  1. Capital of Texas RefugeeWednesday, July 26, 2017 11:50:00 PM

    With this post and your earlier one on Musk/Zuckerberg, there are two questions that are very relevant ...

    What else is this particular thing meant for?

    What else is implied by the need to invoke "the specter of obsolescence"?

    The first question reminds me of the movie "Real Genius" ... remember Lazlo, the smart hippie guy who shows up not to ask whether the thing can be done, but for what?

    What else is a grocery stocking robot good for?

    Also, what else is making people fear a grocery stocking robot good for ... or an AI, or Talkie the Talking Toaster for that matter?

    One very likely possibility is one of what The Gee Men call "dual use": grocery stocking robots would probably be very good at shoving ready-to-fire crates of ammunition into heavy artillery that's too hot for people not in fire protection suits to approach.

    AIs might be "fearsome" if what you really want is "augmentation" of humans -- a friend of mine likes making jokes about AmberHeardBot being commercially available in the next few years, although he says he wants the Rev A and only the Rev A. :-)

    AIs might not be "fearsome" if what you really want is to make learning systems so cheap that you can cram them into anything ... including that really big gun I just mentioned. Imagine Marvin the Paranoid Android ... with a really big gun. Actually, imagine Marvin the Paranoid Android as a really big gun.

    In this way, absurd public sector and commercial uses would fund what are inevitably more refined and more specific military uses.

    This particular Lazlo won't mind watching this bubble burst.

    I can get back to watching old TV episodes of Lena Headey and Shirley Manson squaring off over possible machine futures as if that's still a very, very, very long ways away ...

    It's a lot more enjoyable than wondering whether Tally Who Doesn't Just Tally Me Bananas is packing more than just a little bit of heat, and I wasn't looking forward to having to relocate to "Shang Loo" so I could join up with the "Red Army Hammerheads". :-)

    Not all of us are meant to live in a sci-fi universe.

  2. If I understand what you are saying, that is sort of how all this other robotic stuff started out. iRobot had a military division with robots and guns and for IED's. The government side helped them pay for consumer robots.

    I generally think everyone wouldn't have as much hysteria about these things if the economy was stronger. When I first started covering robots we were excited because robots would take care of us one day. Now everyone is terrified that robots will take care of us one day because the job growth just isn't there. These are now a competition for employment rather than an accentuation.

  3. Capital of Texas RefugeeThursday, July 27, 2017 2:35:00 PM

    The US military is underfunded relative to its wants and spends too much on stupid platforms "designed" by its accountants and bureaucrats, so it doesn't meet its own deployment level goals.

    But what about those platforms ... the F-35? The Least Capable Ship? Pathetic.

    So why not let some enterprising young people develop the Next New Ridiculous Thing if it'll help push the military ahead, goes the thinking ...

    Also, Talkie the Talking Toaster is going to become a "smart mine", I just know it, and I know it's going to sound like the start of one of Meat Beat Manifesto's songs.

    "What is your one purpose in life?" "To explode, of course!" :-)

  4. I'm not saying that won't happen, but we've had machines guns on robots for at least a decade now. No one was that freaked out by them back then.

    I mean, even Google had to sell of it's Boston Dynamics robots because they couldn't make any money off them. Here. They could have become a "smart mine" too.

    They also may well not. What a robot can do in controlled conditions is much different than the real world. Geolocation and obstacle avoidance is the easy part. Now robots have to map the world to understand it. And that is going to take a much longer time.