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Phase 1: Machines Replacing Humans

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (3:25 PM)

So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In… Read more

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So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In class we have addressed what lead us here and what the consequences have been so far of growing  reliance on technology. Our discussions about high frequency trading made me curious about the fast pace world we live in, and why we are so readily allowing machines to be responsible for so many actions. My project will focus on the increasing role of technology in our world and how it is stifling the roles of humans as the use of machines invades every sector of the global economy.

My project consists of an assessment of our present condition (explaining how we use these machines now) and my projections for the future based on my research. I intend to explore the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities that robots and machines have, and to consider both points of view put forth by experts. In many stores we no longer look to humans when paying, but rather we scan items ourselves and a machine spits out our change and a receipt. Our smart-phones speak to us and take commands from us through Siri. When you enter a retail store you might be helped by a kiosk rather than a real person. Vacuum cleaners operate themselves to clean our houses. Our cars can even park themselves. So what will happen next?

Many of our class presentations addressed the use of technology in ways we never thought possible. The use of robots and machines is becoming more and more a part of society, and it has become clear that they will soon be able to complete more human actions than we ever though possible. Things like drones (sailing and flying) and computer operations systems that talk are things that I never expected to see in my lifetime.

By 2013, there were already over a million robots in the industrial workforce. Why? They don’t require an hourly wage, their quality of work is consistent, and they don’t get bored. Technological innovations have left many of us wondering about what the capabilities of these robots will be as they start growing in numbers. My research has lead be to believe that in as little as 10 years it is possible that robots and machines will have invaded the job markets of pharmacists, doctors, soldiers, drivers, store clerks, pilots, and more. What they lack in social intelligence they make up for in efficiency and productivity.

In 2014 we face a future that could go two ways, depending on how we receive new technologies in the next few years. Many experts say that if we refuse to except how quickly human-like technologies are pushing into the workforce, many of us could be left jobless. We need to learn to work side-by-side with these intricate technologies and attempt to keep up. Many blue collar jobs have already been handed over to machines and it appears today that we benefit from not having to employ people to perform the most basic tasks that a machine could do. But robots can acquire smarts, and those that are programmed a certain way pose a threat to society: they could potentially push even white-collar employees out of the workforce.

Robots and automated machines have become more and more capable of completing human actions, and my project explores the conflicting views that experts have on how much they might be able to do in the future. Using various media and research articles, I explain the practicality that these machines might offer us– many people think that this will help American society and the job market rather than hurt it. On the other hand, I also explore conflicting views of experts. While some pro-tech authors from Wired might think that this could help society, others believe that automated machines will take jobs from real people causing unemployment to skyrocket and our economy to plummet.

A Ted Talk on this topic:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYIfeZcXA9U

 

What I have explored so far:

- our current state, what things they can do in 2014

- projections for the future, jobs that robots could potentially take, what fields will they invade, who could be effected

- how we might (be forced to) work together

What I will explore in phase 2:

- emotions, can robots have human qualities?, can they acquire social capabilities?

- what should we do? how our generation and the one after us might have to be more creative

- seeking alternate jobs, what can we do that robots can’t?

 

Questions for the class:

1. Do you think you would feel comfortable working side by side with a machine (as many expert’s predictions say we will have to in the near future)?

2. What types of “creative” jobs might you seek if robots enter the job market and limit your employment opportunities?

3. Do you trust these machines? (drones, electronic servers, surgical machines)

 

http://dco1994.wordpress.com/


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Siri: Bonding Humans and Machines

// Posted by on 02/11/2013 (12:19 AM)

After reading the introduction to Mark Poster’s book “Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines” I immediately thought of one thing…Siri. In the introduction Poster tells a cute story of a little boy who… Read more

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After reading the introduction to Mark Poster’s book “Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines” I immediately thought of one thing…Siri. In the introduction Poster tells a cute story of a little boy who made friends with a telephone operator that fed him information. Poster follows up the story by saying “Increasingly one retrieves information not from a person, such as a telephone switchboard operator, but from an information machine, especially from networked computers. And thus we are ever more normally brought into contact not with other humans directly but with information machines. ‘Information Please,’ as the post reminds us, was once a person; now it is a machine” (3). Surely we can agree with Poster as we are constantly faced with pre-recorded machines when call our doctors offices for example. But what now would Poster have to say about Siri, Apple’s new virtual personal-assistant application? Yes, Siri is a “machine” but some would argues she is much more than that. As quoted in the Huffington Post article, “This, after all, was no ordinary iPhone app, but the progeny of the largest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history: a Defense Department-funded undertaking that sought to build a virtual assistant that could reason and learn.” Siri operates in multiple languages and can do anything from send a text to research a question to make reservations or buy a ticket. But it is Siri’s sense of humor, I think, that perhaps gives her her most “human” quality. Siri, notorious for funny/witty remarks, has joked with her users about things such as weakness (ask it about gyms, for example, and Siri sends back a mocking, “Yeah, your grip feels weak.”) and their need for therapy. This kind of humorous reaction makes the interaction between the user and Siri appear to be more “real”, ultimately bonding humans and machines. “We’re moving more and more towards an interface like the interface we have with each other,” says Saffo, a technology forecaster and associate professor at Stanford University. “Our whole trend is toward ever more intimate interactions with machines [...] and with each phase, machines are doing something ever more central to our lives.” What do you think comes next?

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/siri-do-engine-apple-iphone_n_2499165.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/fashion/when-your-phone-humors-you-noticed.html?_r=0


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What’s next for innovation?

// Posted by on 03/03/2012 (11:25 PM)

This Wednesday, March 7th Apple will announce its’ new Ipad 3 and people are already guessing what the new features will include. As with any Apple upgrade a longer battery life, larger memory capacity, faster loading and better resolution are… Read more

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This Wednesday, March 7th Apple will announce its’ new Ipad 3 and people are already guessing what the new features will include. As with any Apple upgrade a longer battery life, larger memory capacity, faster loading and better resolution are among the expected. But, since when has Apple been a company that does what people expect and leave it at that? While it may be considered more of a phone app there is talk that SIRI will be included in the Ipad 3. Which automatically brings up all the awesome albeit strange things SIRI is capable of take this for example.

Or if one asks SIRI where to hide a dead body it comes back with the locations of the nearest reservoirs, dumps, mines, and the like. How much fun was that to program?

Once more JCR Licklider is brought up in my mind as humans continue to innovate technology to better serve our needs, no matter how large or small the adjustments may be. It is no secret that with each new cool piece of technology humans attach themselves to it and become almost oblivious to the world around them but what does that mean for the future? This excerpt from Popular Mechanics Magazine’s article on 12 Ways the World Could Really End in 2012 has an interesting theory that evokes images of iRobot and the Terminator.

But one would certainly think that with sci-fi movies like that so apart of our culture that the creators of this technology would be doing everything they could to prevent “Judgement Day” as it were. It seems to be that a trend in my posts is developing where I have the urge to type something along the lines of we’ll just have to wait and see, meanwhile keeping a wary eye for that line Renee mentioned in one of her posts where it is simply too much.


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