As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up

A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.

Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years — allowing machines to mimic the human mind — are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.

And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.

Economists long argued that, just as buggy-makers gave way to car factories, technology would create as many jobs as it destroyed. Now many are not so sure.

….there is deep uncertainty about how the pattern will play out now, as two trends are interacting. Artificial intelligence has become vastly more sophisticated in a short time, with machines now able to learn, not just follow programmed instructions, and to respond to human language and movement.

At the same time, the American work force has gained skills at a slower rate than in the past — and at a slower rate than in many other countries. Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 are among the most skilled in the world, according to a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Younger Americans are closer to average among the residents of rich countries, and below average by some measures.

Clearly, many workers feel threatened by technology. In a recent New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 who were not working, 37 percent of those who said they wanted a job said technology was a reason they did not have one. Even more — 46 percent — cited “lack of education or skills necessary for the jobs available.”

By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER – New York Times –

‘Robocops’ Start Patrolling Silicon Valley

Autonomous “Robocop”-style robots, equipped with microphones, speakers, cameras, laser scanners and sensors, have started to guard Silicon Valley.

The security robots, called Knightscope K5 Autonomous Data Machines, were designed by a robotics company, Knightscope, located in Mountain View, California.

The robots are programmed to notice unusual behavior and alert controllers. It also has odor and heat detectors, and can monitor pollution in carpets as well. Last but not least: with cameras, the Robocops can remember up to 300 number plates a minute, monitoring traffic.

It works like this: someone steps in front of a robot, which stops and moves around the person while sending video to a control center. If a burglar doesn’t leave, then “the robot is looking at the video, listening for glass breakage, any loud sound that breaking in would cause. We’ll get the license plate, picture of the vehicle, geotag location, and time,” says project co-founder Stacy Stephens.

The robotics company says that it will be placing the robots to patrol malls, offices, and local neighborhoods, as well as outdoor spaces like corporate campuses, college campuses and open air malls. Knightscope said that future growth opportunities include areas in schools, hotels, auto dealerships, stadiums, casinos, law enforcement agencies, seaports and airports.

From RT.com –

WikiLeaks Founder Fires NSA Data Accusations At Google’s Eric Schmidt

By Laurie Sullivan – MediaPost.com –

Book deals giving readers an inside look at some of the most influential companies in Silicon Valley have been the norm for years, but content in two that were released last week are quickly skyrocketing to the top of the New York Times’ Best Seller list, creating a verbal, virtual sparring match between WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Assange’s book, When Google Met WikiLeaks, found its place on bookstore shelves Wednesday, the day after Schmidt’s latest book, How Google Works.

The Huffington Post reports that in June 2011, Schmidt — Google CEO at the time — met Assange at a cottage in England for a long conversation. Schmidt may not have expected this, but Assange would use the conversation as material for a book of his own, per HuffPo reporter Ryan Grim. The book highlights Google’s cooperative relationship with the U.S. government in terms of privacy, mass surveillance and Internet freedom.

It points back to Assange’s allegations that Google collaborates with the National Security Administration (NSA). Schmidt appeared on ABC News last week calling Assange “very paranoid.”….

 
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