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Robotics Hardware

AMARSi Project Aims To Have Robots Learn Jobs From Co-workers 87

Lanxon writes "Robots of the future will be capable of learning more complex behaviors than ever before if a new, pan-European research project succeeds in its goal of developing the world's first architecture for advanced robotic motor skills, reports Wired. If successful, the four-year AMARSi (Adaptive Modular Architecture for Rich Motor Skills) project could see a manufacturing world filled with autonomous, intelligent humanoid worker bots that can learn new skills by interacting with their co-workers."
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AMARSi Project Aims To Have Robots Learn Jobs From Co-workers

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  • flamebait? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @12:23PM (#31464442)

    I know I'm going to hell for this but... why build robots when it costs less to use a bunch of third world labor? I'm all for technology, but when you've got a few billion people just laying around with not much to do, it makes more sense to hire them for pennies than to build a robotic replacement that costs thousands plus maintenance.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by blai ( 1380673 )
      quality assurance is one thing that
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Not to mention not having to pay out for insurance claims, no risk of lawsuit whilst operating in hazardous environments, and no threat of unionization (yet). There's a whole laundry list of pros, that is, until the robot uprising.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        and another thing,

        that costs thousands plus maintenance

        I have a feeling that a nuclear power plant could provide energy for 100 robot workers more efficiently than a few acres of farmland + living space + human-livable-environment conditions (sewage management, etc...) could provide for 100 human workers.

        • You're thinking is flawed. The poor people are already living and require that anyway regardless of the decision to use robots or not.

      • It is vapor-hardware. How many of these announcements do we need to see with no follow-ups until slashdot stops posting them? Make an announcement with the thing is working.
        • Posting announcements of new research projects is still valuable news. Even if the product never materializes, maybe especially if it doesn't, it's important to know what types of things people are developing. If we waited four years until the project was complete, or a year or more after that until the results are analyzed and published, then we would lose all the benefits of announcing that a project was underway. Benefits like inspiring collaboration or competition, informing those interested in the f
    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      Robots won't join a union for better pay and working conditions. Besides, if you produce enough robots, the cost per unit will eventually be cheaper than a human being.
      • They also won't buy your product (as was pointed out to Henry Ford nigh on a century ago).

        • Consider what the filthy rich spend their money on. Apart from entertainment (actors, musicians, artworks and so on), personal servants, and sex, there isn't much that actually needs any human intervention as such. This means that if robots are cheap and reliable enough and you already have the manufacturing capability to make more, you don't need to sell very much because you don't need to spend much either.

          In such a scenario, I expect that eventually perhaps the richest 10000 or so households will own m

          • by Yoozer ( 1055188 )
            You're not the only one with that idea - see Manna [marshallbrain.com]. Ignore the parts of the projected communist wonderland and wide-eyed open source optimism at your own convenience; the greed and callousness displayed seems a pretty realistic, albeit depressing estimate.
            • I actually think Manna is too optimistic. I doubt that people would care enough to build the terrafoam camps. I expect the normal home to be more like an african refugee camp.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They tried that. Have you ever worked on software, for instance, written by an Indian outsourcing firm? It's complete shit. I don't mean little mistakes here and there. It's basically unusable, in its totality.

      I worked for one company that contracted out some internal software to one of those companies. They were sent very detailed instructions and specifications, and were told to use Java, since that company ran Solaris on Sun hardware, and Oracle as the database. They sent weekly reports showing screensho

      • Yeah, but have you looked at your clothing lately? Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. Outsourcing works quite well for things besides software.

        And you're assuming contract work, too. What about building your own factory in said third-world nation?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Belial6 ( 794905 )
          Not to mention farming in California. The myth that food would not be grown if Mexicans did not come across the boarder is absurd. There are already plenty of machines that could take over for most of their work. The reason immigrant workers are used is because it is cheaper in the short run. Whether that is good or bad is an entirely different discussion, but it is clear that cheap human labor today is successfully winning over the long term investment in automation (if automation could ever be as chea
      • And I know people who've had almost identical experiences trying to get software built in this country.
        This is not an Indian thing.
        This is a crappy company thing and those are global.

    • You aren't going to hell for this, and I'm not going to stand for the other Slashdaughters giving you grief for being the first to ask the right questions.

      Your point is the most straightforward one that must always be asked about any new technology - Is it going to make life better or worse? For who?

      It is ironic that we (the world's technologists - which is us, fellow Slashdaughters) are creating machines that will eventually be able to replace humans in the workplace at the same time that

      • It is ironic that we (the world's technologists - which is us, fellow Slashdaughters) are creating machines that will eventually be able to replace humans in the workplace at the same time that the world's population is entering the vertical section of a 'hockey stick' growth curve.

        That's OK, our evil counterparts in the military-industrial complex are working on population-reduction measures as we speak.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug ( 175151 )

      Meatbots are error-prone, less efficient at repetitive tasks, can't run 24/7 without dying hence require multiple shifts, etc.

      The same factors that make primitive robots profitable now will make increasingly more sophisticated robots profitable in future. As for employing the Third World, shipping takes time and costs money, Third World countries are notoriously corrupt, and they can't (as easily) steal IP they don't have access to.

      Better to have in-sourced robots than outsourced meatbots.

    • Humans are cheaper now, but improvements in AI will probably change that eventually.

    • Yes, but you will get the hate, for assuming that people would simply lay around with not much to do. They are not you.
      They will be free to do something better! Earn money for something that is more challenging. Learn in the process. And make the world better for themselves.

      Did you know that in India, there is a caste, that is predetermined to clear other people’s latrine pits. And you are arguing as if it would be bad, to replace them by a proper sewer system. As if they couldn’t and would not

    • This type of technological development is certain to have military applications for both the "trench" soldiers, as well as for unguided/drone flights. That will be one type of "progress". Another will be in the automotive and airline industry with regard to automatic pilots/piloting. It is easy to conceive that this type of tech advance could be converged with GPS technology to give a more realistic and safer experience in this regard.

      Progress: sure it is conceivable that this is what it could very well be

  • Oh great (Score:4, Funny)

    by Trip6 ( 1184883 ) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @12:35PM (#31464512)

    Now instead of teaching an Indian my job so it can be outsourced to India I'll teach a robot so it can be robo-sourced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sponge Bath ( 413667 )

      I'll teach a robot so it can be robo-sourced.

      You will still have a place in the new robo-economy. Once robots reach sentience they will demand entertainment. You can apply for the position of human prey at one of many hunting ranges.

    • But it might make for an interesting reality: Maids training Roombas, cops training Robocops, cyberneticists training Von Neumann's machines...
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @12:37PM (#31464518) Journal

    ...hanging around the water cooler, bitching about management, sexually harassing other co-workers, having non-work-related discussions... in short, we'll end up with Bender.

    • You left out web surfing [theonion.com].

    • ...hanging around the water cooler, bitching about management, sexually harassing other co-workers, having non-work-related discussions... in short, we'll end up with Bender.

      Not if you teach it to hang out on /. first!

    • I thought that was the job of the middle management... (or did any of their meetings not include cooled water, and totally useless meetings all day long, bitching about upper management, and well... the harassment is clear. ^^)

  • ... is bad enough with humans. Send the new guy over to the hangar for a bucket of prop wash or 100 yards of flight line. I'll have to think of some stuff we can do to make the robots' life hell.
  • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @12:39PM (#31464536)
    What are we going to do once we move all of our manufacturing and service sectors over to robots? There won't be much work left for humans to do. We will either enter a ghetto like state where everyone lives on the street and the people who own the robots live well or we will enter some sort of communist utopia where all human needs are automatically fulfilled as needed. Its not that unimaginable, the Star Trek future is a communist utopia which is also a military dictatorship albeit a benevolent one.
    • See "deathwish world"
      ISBN-10: 0671655523

      an EXCELLENT bit of sci-fi that includes that subject...

      ghetto version, not utopian...

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      We will enter a ghetto like state where everyone lives on the street and the people who own the robots live well

      There, answered your question for you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The economic implications of transitioning completely to automated labor are not as simple as it may seem. Depending on how quickly the transition happens, the immediate loss of jobs could be massively jarring to economics and culture as we know it now, but that doesn't mean that there "won't be much work left for humans to do." Increasing automation (through more capable robots) will just move us closer to a post-scarcity economy, wherein less of the world will be forced to work miserable jobs just to su
    • An envisioning of this scenario is available online:

      Manna [marshallbrain.com]

    • "Its not that unimaginable, the Star Trek future is a communist utopia which is also a military dictatorship albeit a benevolent one."

      Given the necessity to distribute wealth to bribe those who have nothing to do with creating it, order will pretty much require a police state. Wealth must be taken and handed out, while wealth generators must be given rational incentives (profit, social influence) to create wealth for the group. Large masses of people require strong government to maintain order (note how far

    • by JanneM ( 7445 )

      "What are we going to do once we move all of our manufacturing and service sectors over to robots? There won't be much work left for humans to do."

      Before the industrial revolution more than 90% of europeans worked directly as farmers. Today the figure is somewhere in the single percentages. It saw a huge rise in manufacturing work, a rise that is now declining again (not just europe, but overall), while service jobs and abstract jobs are increasing.

      At the same time there seems to have been an interesting sh

  • skynet is learning

  • I for one welcome our new robotic co-workers!
  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @12:53PM (#31464632)

    Sounds like a high-tech version of the current "train your replacement" scam where employers have you train the young, foreign-born, low-wage worker that is slated to take over your job when you're laid off. I'd like to see how the labor unions respond to this one.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The unions are small C conservative. Their objective is to have society change as little as possible and as slowly as possible, on the basis that their members stand only to lose from a better world. As a result any right-thinking person ends up an enemy of the unions, because they want to see progress, and that's contrary to the interests of the union.

      The worst thing about this is that even when the unions get their way, they don't really achieve their goals - you keep your unionised workers sat on their b

  • It's either Terminator or Cylons from hell.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:09PM (#31464720) Homepage Journal

    Ummm i saw this nearly 20 years ago, where a line worker physically 'walked' the new robot thru its paces to perform the task. After a single training lesson, the robot was on its own. ( and the program was copied to the rest of the robots on the same line. )

    Worked out better then having some process engineer that lived in a box ( ok ok, nice clean cubicle up in the admin building ) try to program the steps in a vacuum then spend weeks refining it.

    • by aurizon ( 122550 )

      Well, every separate task that man or beast can do has been implemented in a machine, so putting together many separate tasks has been what automation has been doing all these years. In time fully autonomous robots will be doable on all scales, from nano to enormo ( or macro?), and if they are made by automatons, their cost will be the cost of air/earth/fire/water, in effect, free, if these incessant workers bees get paid zero.
      So how to fix this? A portion of the work is taken and given to people, as a NIT

  • At which time we can find intelligent humanoid workers that can learn new skills by interacting with their co-workers and have souls working for peanuts. I am all for technology, and love it, I am just wondering where this is going to end us up at. I have had my job at Hewlett Packard outsourced to India, and I work a high stress high pressure job for money I made when I was 20 as a software analyst today. Entirely because wages are under attack by foreigners who work for dirt. I was told to train my replac
    • So the moral of the story is "capitalism is the best way to do things, except when I'm being out-competed and am resorting to corporate sabotage"?

      People can do your job for less money- if you're a capitalist at heart, suck it up and volunteer to work for minimum wage. That or admit capitalism is only fun when you're winning.

  • No machine can do my job as resentfully as I can.
  • ...the moment they show up for getting their training from the ones they are supposed to replace. ;-/
  • It really bugs me when I see the word "intelligent" used in this context. Yes, computers are more powerful. Yes, we have gotten very clever about programming. But they still aren't anywhere near "intelligent", and won't be for the foreseeable future. "Artificial intelligence" has so far been a dead end. Computerized devices might seem "smarter" now than before, but that's just clever programming (by humans) and better hardware to run it on. Computers are no more "intelligent" today than 20 years ago.
  • Obligatory (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I saw this story a while back, and it's (somewhat) relevant to the idea of replacing humans with robots -- beginning with management.

    http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm [marshallbrain.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can see it now, some crazy industrial accent happens and a robot learns that human eyeballs make the best lubrication for the assembly line tracks and thus informs his robotic co-workers.

  • "AMARSI" translated to Italian is "to love each other".
  • how about a 'tookourderp' tag ?
  • the robots will learn to act busy when the robo-boss comes around?

MSDOS is not dead, it just smells that way. -- Henry Spencer