Saturday, January 13, 2018

Robots are still pretty stupid.

The past year has been pretty frustrating for me. To watch the media whip the public into a frenzy about robots taking their jobs was heartbreaking. That only comes from the kind of hopelessness of a socialistic system. And ignorance really. If people really understood the glacial nature that robots are taking they would be embarrassed by all the crap they write.

I mean, I've been writing about robots for more than a decade now and we really haven't made that much progress. It's just that oblivious people all of a sudden see a robot that can pick something up and lose their minds. Robots ~can~ pick things up and have been able to for a decade. It still takes them a really really long time to do so even with buzzword helper of A.I.

I'm not even going to give names because we aren't really anywhere that new.

The guy working the robot above enthusiastically came up to tell me the this was a "wellbeing robot" that is suppose to help you.

Me - So, how does it help you? Give you directions or deliver you something? (Because I'm at CES and a robot that roamed the halls and gave directions would be trade show GOLD. If you knew how hard it was trying to find your way around that conference - as I write this I can't even believe not one of the robot companies is doing that. Screw telepresence.)

Him - Well, it roams buildings testing the air and controlling the temperature. We are using this in France right now.

Now people.....tell me how many jobs that is going to take? Oh right - none, because no one does that now. That is a useless robot. IMO. Another robot in search of a problem.

This robot was billed as having A.I. (and what doesn't these days). All he needed to do is pick up that stuffed animal. It must have taken it ten minutes and the girl kept having to kick the kitten closer and closer to the robots vision. She kept saying it was tired from working all day.

The things that robots can do really good these days is moving heavy stuff like boxes.

But honestly, most of these jobs were done by conveyer belts. The above robot would be used in an airport setting to carry baggage.

This company was trying to kill two birds with one stone. A robot that attaches to your vacuum cleaner.

I was actually impressed by the Walker robot, but Mr S. wasn't. We both compared it to the Honda Asimo and I felt that given the footprint of the bot, there actually had been a slight improvement in size. It doesn't have a huge battery pack on it's back. But the Asimo was created in the YEAR 2000! So, maybe I've just slid to Mr S.'s side. That's 17 years!

The media was on fire about these delivery bots. I'm skeptical. This robot is suppose to be a like a grocery store on wheels. The sample set of deliverable food is too small. The first person on the delivery schedule will get the best pick and the person at the end will get shafted. Maybe that is not how it will work,  but that is how I think it will work because that is how people work. I've never ordered perishables by delivery because I like my produce a certain ripeness. I've been training my husband for a LONG time now, and he's just getting it right. So some rando robot stocker probably won't make me happy.

Also.... how long until they make these bots to be like door to door sales bots? They come if you summon them to or not.

Segway is still trying to make a go at it. This is a security bot that you can also ride on like a hover board. And it's modular - I guess? You can add some storage space. I guess you can still ride it at this point but it doesn't seem comfortable.

These robots are like luggage bots. They have storage space inside and follow you around. The follow feature on the one below was pretty impressive.  You push a button and it bonds to you, then follows you around. Since the halls are super crowded I didn't do much but have it follow me for a few feet and then switchback on my route. It was able to pick me out of a crowd and find me when I was completely behind it. And it did so quickly.

I think I will grow to hate these though because with humans you can see their heads and you can navigate around them. These are like rolling luggage  that you can't see until you trip over it if you are in a crowd. But the tech was pretty good. But I do have to add - they have been doing this since the beginning of robot time too. You used to have an ankle strap and that's how it knew how to follow you.

Look at this giant rig that plays table tennis.

We all know the shopping cart bot is right around the corner right? That will make shopping fun. Said in the most sarcastic way. Not only will you have to wait five minutes for the woman to figure out what kind of cheese she wants, but you also have to wait for their bot to move.

1 comment:

Capital of Texas Refugee said...

"The guy working the robot above enthusiastically came up to tell me the this was a 'wellbeing robot' that is suppose to help you ..."

That one looks like a rolling air freshener with a screen and a surveillance camera dome on top.

"Him - Well, it roams buildings testing the air and controlling the temperature ..."

He'd sell more if he simply told everyone it's an AI-scented air freshener instead of a rolling thermostat.

"I've never ordered perishables by delivery because I like my produce a certain ripeness. I've been training my husband for a LONG time now, and he's just getting it right."

This is actually pretty easy if you approach it from an unconventional angle.

Picture this: you have a well-sharpened and honed knife that's of a sufficient grade of steel that it'll keep an edge, and it'll slice through nearly anything. It'll slice through aluminum drink cans, plastic soda bottles, and so forth if you let someone abuse it, but you have to sharpen it on a regular basis just to deal with the usual meat, veg, and dairy.

These days, it is probably Swiss, German, or Japanese.

When your knife doesn't like something, it probably doesn't like it for a very good reason.

Things that can be too ripe that the knife will find out in an instant: tomatoes, bananas, bell peppers. Things that are just plain wrong if the knife gives the slightest bit of resistance: outer layers of onions (that you should simply throw out). Things that will slice in a weird mushy way if they're essentially rotten: root vegetables.

And so it seems really, really easy to train someone to know good produce in the kitchen at least: they get to find out how wrong it is with the knife, and they get to deal with the small mountain of unusable produce bits.

Learning gets easier once they actually see the small mountain of unusable produce bits as something they've actually produced.

What I expect with home delivery of produce: asparagus that smells of ammonia, tomatoes that are bruised, onions that are layers of tough or are essentially part-spoiled inside, absurd sizes and shapes (NSFW) of carrots, zucchini that has an outer spongy "layer", garlic that's lost its flavor or gone off because of cross-exposure, and potatoes that have more hidden eyes than at a CIA reunion. And let's not forget the chile peppers that are hiding a small army of dead bugs, the eggplants not safe to show to little children, and all of that as well.

In other words, Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" was closer about "The Ultimate Deliverator" than these delivery bots, in other words. Hiro Protagonist can deliver my produce anytime. :-)