Rethink Robotics Turns Robots Into Better Co-Workers - InformationWeek

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Rethink Robotics Turns Robots Into Better Co-Workers
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Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 1:59:08 PM
Smart way to approach robotics
I love this, instead of focusing on creating machines built for a specific purpose, and as mentioned run into expensive coding issues when that purpose changes, build a robot that can adapt.  I think many folks are worried about how robotics will fit into the new technology that is entering the workforce, and having an approach like this where workers can use it to augment their roles, not replace them, could be a huge benefit. Especially when it seems like they've figured out how to make it easy to repurpose the robot for other tasks, even if they are temporary. 
John Barnes
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John Barnes,
User Rank: Moderator
11/28/2014 | 4:37:50 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
Exactly, Stratustician.  A thought that I didn't find a logical place to work into the article is that this might make the traditional problem of being an apprentice to a skilled craftsman much less onerous (and thus more attractive to young people).  Even today people learning fine woodworking, stonecutting, stained glass, musical instrument building, and other ten-thousand-hour skills often spend a year or two degreasing, sweeping, polishing, cutting out rough blocks, etc. Some of the people "weeded out" by not being able to put up with a year as a broom pilot, box unpacker, or polish rag operator might be too impatient to learn the craft, but how many people just don't find that they are called to an occupation with an "initiation" of years of busywork.  Give that stuff to Baxter -- who costs much less than a successful skilled craftsman's car -- and let the learners learn!
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 5:00:37 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
Robotics along with 3D printing and drones are developing at a fast pace. These technologies have the potential to change production and take it to a new level. The change might be gradual but the impact could be as beneficial as the industrial revolution -- an increase in the total number of jobs and quality of life. And in the future, BYOD might become bring-your-own-robot.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 5:07:50 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
"I think many folks are worried about how robotics will fit into the new technology that is entering the workforce, and having an approach like this where workers can use it to augment their roles, not replace them, could be a huge benefit."

@Stratustician: I agree. This approach will change the attitude that people have towards robots. In most industrial applications robots are usually feared because if they become succesful in performing the jobs that humans do, the human workers may be replaced. This approach of involving the robots to only assist the humans will cerrtainly improve the future of robotics.
Nemos
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Nemos,
User Rank: Strategist
11/28/2014 | 6:46:48 PM
I feel like a
To be honest while reading the article I felt a bit like a dumb person. I believe the comparison between robots and humans is out of question and creates a very strange feeling at the same time.
Nemos
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Nemos,
User Rank: Strategist
11/28/2014 | 6:50:44 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
"l to change production and take it to a new level"

Indeed, but the question should be in which level ? and before that we have to answer what "we"(the workers approach) are going to do ?
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
11/28/2014 | 10:38:18 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
Baxter sounds like the perfect bordem buster. I don't looking forward to the future where people can spend more time on interesting tasks. I wonder what long term effects that could have on humans. There is value in working through the really boring stuff to get to the interesting bits.
John Barnes
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John Barnes,
User Rank: Moderator
11/28/2014 | 11:02:55 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
Michelle, I think it depends on which kind of boredom we're talking about. Memorizing multiplication tables, playing scales, varying-sentence drills while learning languages all lead somewhere, and if they're done with attention you get done sooner.  But Charlie Bucket's father's job (screwing caps onto toothpaste tubes) emphatically leads nowhere and getting better at it is irrelevant. 

Whether we need completely mindnumbing repetitive tasks for people who can't handle anything else is an interesting question; anyone you ask, "Would you like that job?" seems to say no, though. It may be self-selected (the people who would like it are too dumb to understand the question), but I think there really are jobs too dull for a human being -- and there are provably jobs too dull for a human being to do well.
John Barnes
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John Barnes,
User Rank: Moderator
11/28/2014 | 11:06:09 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
Well, just to begin with, collaborative robotics + 3D printing = custom fit everything for everybody, e.g. tools made for your exact hand and grip (I would bet that would come in sports equipment first), toys shaped to a child's interests/skills/development needs, etc.
John Barnes
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John Barnes,
User Rank: Moderator
11/28/2014 | 11:10:22 PM
Re: Smart way to approach robotics
This approach of involving the robots to only assist the humans will cerrtainly improve the future of robotics

Tzubair, even Rethink freely admits that Baxter will probably take away jobs at the very lowest skill levels. The argument is just that those were not just entry level jobs, but "enter and never go any further" jobs, where workers were dead-ended the first day of work, and that by doing those jobs better than a person can, Baxter creates more work for peoplewho must use judgment and brains. It's a very attractive argument and at least in some of the early adopters it seems to be working out -- but whether it's true or not, and for how many people, and how much, all remains to be seen.
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