In the midst of fulminating about an approaching robot apocalypse, a strange and disturbing counter trend is taking place: the rise of violence against robots. While fears of robots often turn upon suppositions that are still largely unproven, such as whether robots will achieve super-intelligence or come to dominate the workplace, the latter phenomena is fast accruing a solid and tangible corpus of evidence.
The implementation of robotic process automation (RPA) is enabling enterprises to execute business processes 5-10 times faster with an average of 37 percent fewer resources, according to a report released this week by Information Services Group (ISG). However, the productivity gains are not necessarily leading to mass layoffs, but rather the redeployment of employees to handle higher-value tasks and a greater volume of work, according to ISG.
"The VEX Robotics World Championship is an exciting ride from start to finish. It's truly inspiring to witness the hard work and dedication of these teams, who competed all year to get an invitation to Louisville," said Paul Copioli, president of VEX Robotics. "We're thrilled to see students from Canada, China, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States excelling in STEM as they proudly take home World Champion titles for their outstanding performance, teamwork and sportsmanship."
There was a time in America, not too long ago, when most people, including journalists, business leaders, politicians, and scholars, were full-throated advocates of technologically powered productivity growth. They understood that through mechanization, automation, and other forms of innovation, we can produce more, better, and cheaper goods and services, and have higher incomes.
The number of industrial robots sold in the U.S. will jump nearly 300 percent in less than a decade, according to a projection from ABI Research. Already, 40 percent more robots were sold last year in the U.S., compared with four years prior, says data collected from the Robotic Industries Association.
Unfortunately for the U.S., while America is a big user of robotics it's well behind in the field of robots for industrial manufacturing and stands to lose out on the billions of dollars in purchases of robotics in the years ahead. Japan's Fanuc Corp. is the world's largest industrial-robot producer. Germany-based Kuka is another major player. Last year, China's appliance giant Midea Group snapped up a majority stake in Kuka.
Although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week he's "not at all" worried about mass unemployment as the U.S. becomes more technologically advanced, a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates hundreds of thousands of jobs have been sidelined by automation in the U.S. in recent decades.
Elementary and secondary school students who later want to become scientists and engineers often get hands-on inspiration by using off-the-shelf kits to build and program robots. But so far it’s been difficult to create robotic projects to foster interest in the “wet” sciences - biology, chemistry and medicine - so called because experiments in these field often involve fluids.
As adults, there are so many resources available to us to break into the world of programming and coding. From organizations like General Assembly and the hundreds of localized coding bootcamps, you can practically throw a stick into the wind and find a way to learn about development. For kids on the other hand, things are not quite as cut and dry, and programming is not readily available in the classroom.
The 2016 report is a 100-page tome packed with specific, technical recommendations that the contributors believe will be important for Congress to fund and support as robotics starts to take center stage across U.S. industries.