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Robots are slowly taking over the human population, in factories, retail and service industries - slowly, but surely. But, how much worse can it get? The World Economic Forum has now weighed in, with some estimates.
The WEF says that over 5 million jobs will be lost to robots, with the white-collar workers (admin/office jobs) being the ones most at risk. The WEF surveyed 15 countries that have over 1.9 billion workers - including China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US. These 1.9 billion workers make up 65% of the global workforce, with hope that robots won't take over all of our jobs - as people will need to adapt to technology as it arrives.
WEF founder Klaus Schwab and board member Richard Samans explained: "To prevent a worst-case scenario -- technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality -- reskilling and upskilling of today's workers will be critical". You can read their full report "The Future of Jobs" here.
Apple has acquired facial recognition and analysis firm Emotient, which features a let's say interesting self-description on its website.
"[Our] company is at the vanguard of a new wave of emotion analysis that will lead to a quantum leap in customer understanding and emotion-aware computing," it reads. "Emotient's cloud-based services deliver direct measurement of a customer's unfiltered emotional response to ads, content, products and customer service or sales interactions."
"The insights gained from Emotient give businesses the ability to make better decisions and accelerate their revenue growth."
The $32 million collaboration between the Google-owned Boston Dynamics team and DARPA has been put on the backburner indefinitely, as the US Marines Corps has decided not to go forward with the LS3 "robotic mule" produced by the project. The main reason: it's too damn loud. Repairs and squad integration were also concerns.
The purpose of the creatures was to carry up to 400lbs worth of equipment, though judging from the look of them, enemy intimidation was part of the appeal as well.
Tim Peake, the first British ESA astronaut on the ISS, seems to have accidentally called the wrong number on Christmas. From space.
Presumably he was trying to reach his family on Christmas day when he accidentally phoned an unknown lady and said "Hello, is this planet Earth?", which he was likely promptly hung-up on. I can't imagine that that wouldn't sound like a prank call to someone on Earth, even if it's an endearing message from anyone who knows who the message was.
But these types of wrong numbers aren't unusual, either. Astronaut Sam Christoforetti has also accidentally called the wrong number while orbiting the Earth, to 911. Though I'm not sure that the police ever responded to let them know the dangers of calling if it's not an emergency.
Columbia University Engineers have successfully created the world's first biologically powered computer chip, which could ultimately usher in a new harmonious union of nature and technology.
Thanks to a new advancement in the field of bioelectronics, the union of man and machine may not be that far away. Researchers at New York's Columbia University have tapped the energy created by a natural biological process to power an integrated CMOS circuit, which is found in common electronics such as cell phones.
"In combining a biological, electronic device with CMOS, we will be able to create new systems not possible with either technology alone," says Ken Shepard, Lau Family Professor of Electrical Engineering who led the study. "We are excited at the prospect of expanding the palette of active devices that will have new functions, such as harvesting energy from ATP, as was done here, or recognizing specific molecules, giving chips the potential to taste and smell. This was quite a unique new direction for us, and it has great potential to give solid state systems new capabilities with biological components."
Stuart Grey has created a great animation that shows a time-lapse of all of the wonderful things we've shot into space. It's gorgeous and downright terrifying if you understand the implications.
Space debris flying around our beautiful blue and green planet is a real threat to us and our future ventures in space. We've put a tremendous amount of stuff into space, and a lot of it is still there. In fact, almost 20,000 pieces of debris, or inactive and non-used space objects are still out there today.
Just imagine what happened in Gravity actually happening in real-life. We track a lot of the stuff up there, but there's just so much that one day it's possible that something will slip through and actually hit a communications satellite or GPS satellite that you're using. Whoops! Thankfully there are some efforts underway to clean some of it up, before it falls into peoples homes.
Microsoft has developed software, called predictive policing, that's able to predict whether inmates will end back up into jail within six months from release with a 91% accuracy rate. Check out the video presentation here.
It might sound like the program that was depicted in 2002's silver-screen adaptation of Philip K. Dicks 1956 Minority Report, and it mostly is. Just without all the special powers. Instead of having gifted humans predict the future through the Force, or similar powers, the piece of software actually under development is instead a complex algorithm that uses historical data and trends to predict future trends.
It's not magic, but it's based on science and statistics in order predict the probability that someone will repeat their behavior. Past behavior, as they say, is the greatest predictor of future behavior, as much as we'd like to believe that we can change drastically, sometimes it isn't necessarily so for everyone. And we are ultimately a predictable lot, prone to patterns.
LG has just unveiled its new robotic vacuum, the Hom-Bot Turbo+, which has some nifty features.
First off, it's a normal robotic vacuum, so you can schedule your cleaning duties to be done while you're out of the house, or asleep. The Turbo+ has three cameras that, with the assistance of the Robonavi software, allow the robotic vacuum to navigate your house, apartment or wherever you call home, and keep it clean.
LG has used these cameras in a unique way, as you can view the Turbo+ in real-time, and remotely control it through the Home-View function. The Home-View function has the cameras working as a mobile security system, which lets owners of the Turbo+ receive still images to their devices if it detects movement in a home that should be empty.
LG will be showing off the Hom-Bot Turbo+ at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas.
Sony is working on a new battery technology that will see batteries lasting 40% longer on a single charge, and they'll also be up to 30% smaller than current batteries found inside of our devices.
Japanese newspaper Nikkei is behind the latest report, reporting that Sony is creating a power cell made from a sulfur compound, instead of lithium, used in today's batteries. The first commercial Li-on battery was created by Sony, so if the Japanese electronics giant does get its new sulfur-based battery to the market, it would make another first for Sony. But there are problems with sulfur-based batteries, as their capacity decreases with every charge cycle, because of the electrode dissolving into the electrolyte. Nikkei reports that Sony has found a way around these problems by reforming the electrolyte solution to make longer-lasting batteries, hold even more power.
Sony is reportedly verifying the safety of this new battery technology before it kicks off mass production. The company is going to be making sure the new sulfur-based batteries won't explode, or make your new smartphone worthless after a few charges. We shouldn't see Sony's new battery technology inside of devices until 2020.
Solar power is a great alternative to countless other energies, but cloud can get in the way sometimes - and it's unavoidable, until now.
An international consortium is working on taking solar farms to the skies, above the clouds using stratospheric balloons. These balloons would be much closer to the sun, taking in as much power as possible into its solar cells - without much interference and space used on the ground. Under the direction of French-Japanese scientific research lab, NEXTPV, the main tenet of their concept is that there aren't many clouds floating at an altitude of 3.7 miles (6km). But higher, at 12.4 miles (or 20km) there are not many clouds at all.
Taking away cloud coverage and light diffusions that "occurs in the many close layers of the Earth's atmosphere leads to a higher concentration of sunlight. In turn, this concentrated solar power leads to higher energy yields from photovoltaic solar cells", reports Yahoo. How would these massive solar farms float above the clouds? They would use the excess electricity generated during the day to recombine hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell. This fuel cell would then release power regularly, as required, overnight. The same source of hydrogen isolated through water electrolysis for the fuel cell would keep the entire solar farm balloon in the air.
The only byproduct of the balloon would be pure water molecules, as the balloon itself would be constructed of low-energy polymers, which are easy to produce.