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Robotics Technology

Office Robots of the Near Future, Gearing Up 100

Reader jsrodrigues points out Businessweek's article on the predicted coming wave of office robots. These include offerings from Willow Garage, Anybots, and Smart Robots, all designed to automate certain bits of office-building meatspace gruntwork, like ferrying mail and making coffee, but more intelligently and smoothly than previous generations of such tools. Smart Robots has posted a scenario describing the benefits of office life with robots; a test run of robots from that company is set for early 2012 at "a major office building in Manhattan."
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Office Robots of the Near Future, Gearing Up

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  • by intellitech ( 1912116 ) * on Sunday January 16, 2011 @05:14PM (#34899238)
    I find this interesting because history shows that new machinery which helps cut (labor) costs almost always displaces human labor in the long run. But, even if it is only for a short term, I would love an office robot that could fetch me a new pot of coffee every hour, until it learns how to do my job.
  • Re:In other use... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @05:29PM (#34899340) Homepage Journal

    Solution: govt prints money to provide a basic income [wikipedia.org] to everyone (an idea that's been around since founding father Tom Paine's 1795 Agrarian Justice [wikisource.org]). Govt also funds challenges (biz can hold challenges too!) to stimulate the native ingenuity in each of us to innovate. As long as we keep producing things others want, the currency stays strong.

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @06:59PM (#34900022) Homepage

    From my comment here: http://econfuture.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/robots-jobs-and-our-assumptions/#comment-392 [wordpress.com]

    In brief, a combination of robotics and other automation, better design, and voluntary social networks are decreasing the value of most paid human labor (by the law of supply and demand). At the same time, demand for stuff and services is limited for a variety of reasons -- some classical, like a cyclical credit crunch or a concentration of wealth (aided by automation and intellectual monopolies) and some novel like people finally getting too much stuff as they move up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or a growing environmental consciousness. In order to move past this, our society needs to emphasize a gift economy (like Wikipedia or Debian GNU/Linux or blogging), a basic income (social security for all regardless of age), democratic resource-based planning (with taxes, subsidies, investments, and regulation), and stronger local economies that can produce more of their own stuff (with organic gardens, solar panels, green homes, and 3D printers). There are some bad "make work" alternatives too that are best avoided, like endless war, endless schooling, endless bureaucracy, endless sickness, and endless prisons.

    Simple attempts to prop things up, like requiring higher wages in the face of declining demand for human labor and more competition for jobs, will only accelerate the replacement process for jobs as higher wage requirements would just be more incentive to automate, redesign, and push more work to volunteer social networks. We are seeing the death spiral of current mainstream economics based primarily on a link between the right to consume and the need to have a job (even as there may remain some link for higher-than-typical consumption rates in some situations, even with a basic income, a gift economy, etc).

    Essentially, mainstream economists are clueless and living in a conceptual bubble. And that is not just e saying it, other economists say that about their peers, like here:
        "They Did Their Homework (800 Years of It)"
        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/business/economy/04econ.html [nytimes.com]
    "But in the wake of the recent crisis, a few economists -- like Professors Reinhart and Rogoff, and other like-minded colleagues like Barry Eichengreen and Alan Taylor -- have been encouraging others in their field to look beyond hermetically sealed theoretical models and into the historical record. "There is so much inbredness in this profession," says Ms. Reinhart. "They all read the same sources. They all use the same data sets. They all talk to the same people. There is endless extrapolation on extrapolation on extrapolation, and for years that is what has been rewarded.""

    For more info:
    http://econfuture.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/robots-jobs-and-our-assumptions/#comment-402 [wordpress.com]
    http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery [google.com]

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