Amazon pledges $700 million to teach its workers to code — from wired.com by Louise Matsakis

Excerpt:

Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend up to $700 million over the next six years retraining 100,000 of its US employees, mostly in technical skills like software engineering and IT support. Amazon is already one of the largest employers in the country, with almost 300,000 workers (and many more contractors) and it’s particularly hungry for more new talent. The company currently has more than 20,000 vacant US roles, over half of which are at its headquarters in Seattle. Meanwhile, the US economy is booming, and there are now more open jobs than there are unemployed people who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Against that backdrop, Amazon’s jobs skills efforts provide some reassurance that—in theory at least—you could be retrained into a new role when the robots arrive.

 

From the announcement:

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network.

 

Also see:

  • Amazon to Invest $700M to Retrain 100,000 Workers for New Jobs — from pcmag.com by Michael Kan Icon
    ‘There is a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before. Amazon is no exception,’ the company said. The goal is to ‘upskill’ one third of Amazon’s total work force by 2025 through free retraining programs.
 

From DSC:
A couple of somewhat scary excerpts from Meet Hemingway: The Artificial Intelligence Robot That Can Copy Your Handwriting (from forbes.com by Bernard Marr):

The Handwriting Company now has a robot that can create beautifully handwritten communication that mimics the style of an individual’s handwriting while a robot from Brown University can replicate handwriting from a variety of languages even though it was just trained on Japanese characters.

Hemingway is The Handwriting Company’s robot that can mimic anyone’s style of handwriting. All that Hemingway’s algorithm needs to mimic an individual’s handwriting is a sample of handwriting from that person.

 

From DSC:
So now there are folks out there that can generate realistic “fakes” using videos, handwriting, audio and more. Super. Without technologies to determine such fakes, things could get ugly…especially as we approach a presidential election next year. I’m trying not to be negative, but it’s hard when the existence of fakes is a serious topic and problem these days.

 

Addendum on 7/5/19:
AI poised to ruin Internet using “massive tsunami” of fake news — from futurism.com

“Because [AI systems] enable content creation at essentially unlimited scale, and content that humans and search engines alike will have difficulty discerning… we feel it is an incredibly important topic with far too little discussion currently,” Tynski told The Verge.

 

From DSC:
First of all, a couple of articles:

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas — from digitaltrends.com by Trevor Mogg

Excerpt:

Global pizza purveyor Domino’s is planning to use self-driving pods to deliver its cheesy meals to hungry customers. The food company is partnering with California-based tech startup Nuro for a trial service in Houston, Texas later this year.

 

 

Amazon is creating detailed 3D models of suburbia to train its new delivery robots — from theverge.com by James Vincent
‘Eventually, we’ll be delivering around the world.’

 

 

From DSC:
Instead of Amazon having their army of robots/drones, Domino’s having their army of driverless pods, etc…perhaps we should think about how we want this all to unfold in the future — especially with an eye on what the world will be like for future generations.

 

“The company won’t say where or when it plans to expand these tests…”

 

From DSC:
It should NOT be Amazon’s decision (nor Domino’s decision, nor any other company’s decision) to expand any tests here! It should be up to citizens to weigh in on what we want our future to look like before any such endeavors are allowed to move forward another inch.

 

From DSC:
I just ran across this recently…what do you think of it?!

 

 

From DSC:
For me, this is extremely disturbing. And if I were a betting man, I’d wager that numerous nations/governments around the world — most certainly that includes the U.S. — have been developing new weapons of warfare for years that are based on artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, etc.

The question is, now what do we do?

Some very hard questions that numerous engineers and programmers need to be asking themselves these days…

By the way, the background audio on the clip above should either be non-existent or far more ominous — this stuff is NOT a joke.

Also see this recent posting. >>

 

Addendum on 6/26/19:

 

Experts in machine learning and military technology say it would be technologically straightforward to build robots that make decisions about whom to target and kill without a “human in the loop” — that is, with no person involved at any point between identifying a target and killing them. And as facial recognition and decision-making algorithms become more powerful, it will only get easier.

 

 

‘Robots’ Are Not ‘Coming for Your Job’—Management Is — from gizmodo.com by Brian Merchant; with a special thanks going out to Keesa Johnson for her posting this out on LinkedIn

A robot is not ‘coming for’, or ‘stealing’ or ‘killing’ or ‘threatening’ to take away your job. Management is.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

At first glance, this might like a nitpicky semantic complaint, but I assure you it’s not—this phrasing helps, and has historically helped, mask the agency behind the *decision* to automate jobs. And this decision is not made by ‘robots,’ but management. It is a decision most often made with the intention of saving a company or institution money by reducing human labor costs (though it is also made in the interests of bolstering efficiency and improving operations and safety). It is a human decision that ultimately eliminates the job.

 

From DSC:
I’ve often said that if all the C-Suite cares about is maximizing profits — instead of thinking about their fellow humankind and society as a whole —  we’re in big trouble.

If the thinking goes, “Heh — it’s just business!” <– Again, then we’re in big trouble here.

Just because we can, should we? Many people should be reflecting upon this question…and not just members of the C-Suite.

 

 

 

From LinkedIn.com today:

 


Also see:


 

From DSC:
I don’t like this at all. If this foot gets in the door, vendor after vendor will launch their own hordes of drones. In the future, where will we go if we want some piece and quiet? Will the air be filled with swarms of noisy drones? Will we be able to clearly see the sun? An exaggeration..? Maybe…maybe not.

But, now what? What recourse do citizens have? Readers of this blog know that I’m generally pro-technology. But the folks — especially the youth — working within the FAANG companies (and the like) need to do a far better job asking, “Just because we can do something, should we do it?”

As I’ve said before, we’ve turned over the keys to the $137,000 Maserati to drivers who are just getting out of driving school. Then we wonder….”How did we get to this place?” 

 

If you owned this $137,000+ car, would you turn the keys of it over to your 16-25 year old?!

 

As another example, just because we can…

just because we can does not mean we should

 

…doesn’t mean we should.

 

just because we can does not mean we should

 

How MIT’s Mini Cheetah Can Help Accelerate Robotics Research — from spectrum.ieee.org by Evan Ackerman
Sangbae Kim talks to us about the new Mini Cheetah quadruped and his future plans for the robot

 

 

From DSC:
Sorry, but while the video/robot is incredible, a feeling in the pit of my stomach makes me reflect upon what’s likely happening along these lines in the militaries throughout the globe…I don’t mean to be a fear monger, but rather a realist.

 

 

India Just Swore in Its First Robot Police Officer — from futurism.com by Dan Robitzski
RoboCop, meet KP-Bot.

Excerpt:

RoboCop
India just swore in its first robotic police officer, which is named KP-Bot.

The animatronic-looking machine was granted the rank of sub-inspector on Tuesday, and it will operate the front desk of Thiruvananthapuram police headquarters, according to India Today.

 

 

From DSC:
Whoa….hmmm…note to the ABA and to the legal education field — and actually to anyone involved in developing laws — we need to catch up. Quickly.

My thoughts go to the governments and to the militaries around the globe. Are we now on a slippery slope? How far along are the militaries of the world in integrating robotics and AI into their weapons of war? Quite far, I think.

Also, at the higher education level, are Computer Science and Engineering Departments taking their responsibilities seriously in this regard? What kind of teaching is being done (or not done) in terms of the moral responsibilities of their code? Their robots?

 

 

 

Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work — from weforum.org

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacts skills, tasks and jobs, there is growing concern that both job displacement and talent shortages will impact business dynamism and societal cohesion. A proactive and strategic effort is needed on the part of all relevant stakeholders to manage reskilling and upskilling to mitigate against both job losses and talent shortages.

Through the Preparing for the Future of Work project, the World Economic Forum provides a platform for designing and implementing intra-industry collaboration on the future of work, working closely with the public sector, unions and educators. The output of the project’s first phase of work, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All, highlighted an innovative method to identify viable and desirable job transition pathways for disrupted workers. This second report, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work extends our previous research to assess the business case for reskilling and establish its magnitude for different stakeholders. It also outlines a roadmap for selected industries to address specific challenges and opportunities related to the transformation of their workforce.

 

See the PDF file / report here.

 

 

 

 

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body — from digitaltrends.com by Georgina Torbet

Excerpt:

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) have developed what they call elastic microbots that can change shape depending on their environment.

 

AI fail: Japan’s Henn-na Hotel dumps ‘annoying’ robot staff, hires humans — from scmp.com by Julian Ryall
Dinosaur receptionists are a thing of the past as Japan’s first robot hotel concludes there “are places where they are just not needed”

Excerpt:

The hotel decided to withdraw the dinosaur and humanoid robots that staffed front desks at its properties because they were unable to respond to queries from guests about local attractions or access to airports. Humans were also on stand-by every time a guest’s passport needed to be registered.

 

 

 

That said, also see:

AI predictions for 2019 from Yann LeCun, Hilary Mason, Andrew Ng, and Rumman Chowdhury — from venturebeat.com by Khair Johnson

Excerpt:

In the year ahead, Chowdhury expects to see more government scrutiny and regulation of tech around the world.

“AI and the power that is wielded by the global tech giants raises a lot of questions about how to regulate the industry and the technology,” she said. “In 2019, we will have to start coming up with the answers to these questions — how do you regulate a technology when it is a multipurpose tool with context-specific outcomes? How do you create regulation that doesn’t stifle innovation or favor large companies (who can absorb the cost of compliance) over small startups? At what level do we regulate? International? National? Local?”

She also expects to see the continued evolution of AI’s role in geopolitical matters.

“This is more than a technology, it is an economy- and society-shaper. We reflect, scale, and enforce our values in this technology, and our industry needs to be less naive about the implications of what we build and how we build it,” she said. For this to happen, she believes people need to move beyond the idea common in the AI industry that if we don’t build it, China will, as if creation alone is where power lies.

 

“We hold the responsibility of recreating the world in a way that is more just, more fair, and more equitable while we have the rare opportunity to do so. This moment in time is fleeting; let’s not squander it.”

 

 

 

 

Training the workforce of the future: Education in America will need to adapt to prepare students for the next generation of jobs – including ‘data trash engineer’ and ‘head of machine personality design’– from dailymail.co.uk by Valerie Bauman

Excerpts:

  • Careers that used to safely dodge the high-tech bullet will soon require at least a basic grasp of things like web design, computer programming and robotics – presenting a new challenge for colleges and universities
  • A projected 85 percent of the jobs that today’s college students will have in 2030 haven’t been invented yet
  • The coming high-tech changes are expected to touch a wider variety of career paths than ever before
  • Many experts say American universities aren’t ready for the change because the high-tech skills most workers will need are currently focused just on people specializing in science, technology, engineering and math

.

 

 

Top six AI and automation trends for 2019 — from forbes.com by Daniel Newman

Excerpt:

If your company hasn’t yet created a plan for AI and automation throughout your enterprise, you have some work to do. Experts believe AI will add nearly $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030, and 20 % of companies surveyed are already planning to incorporate AI throughout their companies next year. As 2018 winds down, now is the time to take a look at some trends and predictions for AI and automation that I believe will dominate the headlines in 2019—and to think about how you may incorporate them into your own company.

 

Also see — and an insert here from DSC:

Kai-Fu has a rosier picture than I do in regards to how humanity will be impacted by AI. One simply needs to check out today’s news to see that humans have a very hard time creating unity, thinking about why businesses exist in the first place, and being kind to one another…

 

 

 

How AI can save our humanity 

 

 

 

Robots as a platform: Are you ready? — from dzone.com by Donna Thomas
Robots as a platform are just about to change the world. What are you going to build?

Excerpt:

But unlike those other platforms, robots can independently interact with the physical environment, and that changes everything. As a robot skill developer, you are no longer limited to having your code push pixels around a phone screen.

Instead, your code can push around the phone* itself.

 

From DSC:
* Or a bomb.

Hmmm….it seems to me that this is another area where we need to slow down and first ask some questions about what we want our future to look/be like.  Plus, the legal side of the house needs to catch up as quickly as possible — for society’s benefit.

 

 

5 questions we should be asking about automation and jobs — from hbr.org by Jed Kolko

Excerpts:

  1. Will workers whose jobs are automated be able to transition to new jobs?*
  2. Who will bear the burden of automation?
  3. How will automation affect the supply of labor?
  4. How will automation affect wages, and how will wages affect automation?
  5. How will automation change job searching?

 

From DSC:
For those Economics profs and students out there, I’m posted this with you in mind; also highly applicable and relevant to MBA programs.

* I would add a few follow-up questions to question #1 above:

  • To which jobs should they transition to?
  • Who can help identify the jobs that might be safe for 5-10 years?
  • If you have a family to feed, how are you going to be able to reinvent yourself quickly and as efficiently/flexibly as possible? (Yes…constant, online-based learning comes to my mind as well, as campus-based education is great, but very time-consuming.)

 

Also see:

We Still Don’t Know Much About the Jobs the AI Economy Will Make — or Take — from medium.com by Rachel Metz with MIT Technology Review
Experts think companies need to invest in workers the way they do for other core aspects of their business they’re looking to future-proof

One big problem that could have lasting effects, she thinks, is a mismatch between the skills companies need in new employees and those that employees have or know that they can readily acquire. To fix this, she said, companies need to start investing in their workers the way they do their supply chains.

 

Per LinkedIn:

Putting robots to work is becoming more and more popularparticularly in Europe. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Slovakian workers face a 62% median probability that their job will be automated “in the near future.” Workers in Eastern Europe face the biggest likelihood of having their jobs overtaken by machines, with the textile, agriculture and manufacturing industries seen as the most vulnerable. • Here’s what people are saying.

 

Robot Ready: Human+ Skills for the Future of Work — from economicmodeling.com

Key Findings

In Robot-Ready, we examine several striking insights:

1. Human skills—like leadership, communication, and problem solving—are among the most in-demand skills in the labor market.

2. Human skills are applied differently across career fields. To be effective, liberal arts grads must adapt their skills to the job at hand.

3. Liberal art grads should add technical skills. There is considerable demand for workers who complement their human skills with basic technical skills like data analysis and digital fluency.

4. Human+ skills are at work in a variety of fields. Human skills help liberal arts grads thrive in many career areas, including marketing, public relations, technology, and sales.

 

 

 

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