There is no question that rapidly advancing robot and AI technology are enabling companies to bring back work previously done overseas, especially in China. At the same time, they are eliminating the need for human involvement in the manufacturing and assembly processes, no matter where the 'manufacturing' takes place.
This excellent "Are Robots Hurting Job Growth?" segment on 60 Minutes explains the accelerating trend along with the benefits and the challenges it's creating. In the end, it may pose more of a severe problem for blue collar workers in China, India, and Asia than it will for their counterparts in 1st World nations, though no one will be able to completely escape its impact.
If I had to make one critical observation about the 60 minutes segment it would be to say that the title, "Are robots hurting job growth?", is misleading. To understand what is really taking place, and the eventual impact on individuals, governments, and societies, we need to take a much deeper, and more focused, approach. Robots, or more specifically 'robotics', is only a tool or technology.
The real 'problem', if we consider it to be a problem, is our focus on ever increasing efficiency and profitability, apparently without regard or a second thought to the impact on the quality of human life in general.
Watch Robots Play Part in Treatment for People With Special Needs on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
"Notre Dame psychology professors use a robot built in France by Aldebaran Robotics as a tool to encourage children with autism, who may struggle just to engage in simple conversation. According to the Autism Society, 1 percent of American children ages three to 17 have an autism spectrum disorder."
Related link: PBS NewsHour
The Robot Japan competitions get better and better each time. The 5th bi-annual event, held last Sunday in Tokyo, was the best competition yet from all aspects. The professionalism, showmanship, energy, and excitement was absolutely fantastic.
Here's my photo set of the afternoon. I'll be posting several videos of the action on the Robots Dreams YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/robotsdreams) also.
The ROBO-ONE organizing committee announced that the 6th ROBO-ONE Light competition will be held Saturday, February 23, 2013 at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science in Tokyo.
The qualifying tests for the 22nd ROBO-ONE competition will be held the same day immediately following the ROBO-ONE Light event, with the full competition scheduled for Sunday, February 24th, 2013 at the same venue.
The events, which will be staged in the large 7th floor auditorium, are open to the public with free admission.
Just received another email from Amazon Japan updating the status of my order for Bre Pettis's new book, "Getting Started with MakerBot". It's been delayed once again. The new projected delivery is January 6, 2013 though I'm sure it'll be delayed again.
Same thing happened several times already with Joseph Prusa's book on RepRep. The Amazon note simply reads the following,
"Dear customer: We have learned that there is been a delay with some of the items in your order indicated above. When your order is shipped you will receive an email message confirming the date, contents, and method of shipment."
That's all, nothing more to be done, just keep waiting...
I'm sure that a big part of the problem is the fact that the whole RepRap and 3-D printer spaces are growing dynamically. Things are changing rapidly. It's not just our knowledge the growing, it's also all the available configurations. New competitors are entering the market. And even existing competitors are making dynamic changes.
Bre may have started his book back in the Cupcake or more likely in the Thing-o-matic days. But, by the time the book is written, edited, layed out, and is ready for distribution, the company is gone through one or two generations of products. The old products that were new when the book started are already obsolete, and the newer products don't have their legs under them yet. So it's hard to write anything of significant size, like a commercial book that should sell for somewhere in the order of 20 or $30, and have it not be full of obsolete or questionable information.
I suppose that Prusa is also in the same position. His personal and professional status is changed dramatically month by month. For example, he recently decided to turned his hobby or avocation into a full-time occupation. This puts a totally different twist on what he would write and how he would position things. Another good example is the Thingiverse, especially the controversy over Makerbot going commercial. Prusa was one of the major agitators demonstrating actively on the Internet against Makerbot taking what everyone assumed to be an open source sharing platform and change the rules of the game, modifying its terms of service. So, how do you position that in a book?
Of course, the heart of the problem is the fact that they're trying to do this using the traditional publishing methodology and market. Had they gone completely digital and published their books in a PDF or e-book format, using the Internet, they could have had several generations of the book out, critiqued, gotten feedback, and improved them several times already. Instead we have customers that have placed orders months ago, perhaps as much as nine months ago, frustrated and still waiting for the book that they thought that they would get as a introduction or entry-level home helping them get into 3-D printing.
Design World has an online webinar scheduled for next Tuesday, December 4th, featuring Chong Pak of Olloclip explaining how they used 3D printing technology to design and manufacture their 3-in-one lens system for the iPhone camera. According to the webinar registration webpage:
"Olloclip has created the ultimate 3-in-one lens system for your iPhone that fits in your pocket and takes your picture taking ability to the next level. Product design in the most recent years has been impacted tremendously by 3D printing and Olloclip’s camera lenses are no different. Whether it’s wide angle, fish eye or a macro picture view, this development in camera phone technology has been made possible by Objet 3D Printing. Please join Chong Pak of Olloclip and Objet Geometries as they discuss product design within the iPhone era and how 3D printing can help engineers design, create and ultimately bring products to life faster.
Attend this webinar to learn about:
-Olloclip and their fast hitting iPhone accessory
-3D printing and the design process
-Objet’s multi-platform capabilities"