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Andy Rubin Is Heading a Secret Robotics Project At Google

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,15 days | from the smells-like-the-animatrix dept.

Google 162

sfcrazy writes "The creator of the most sought after 'Android' of the world has been secretly working on creating a robotics division within Google. The search engine giant has acquired over seven robotics companies recently to create the robotics unit which is being headed by none other than Andy Rubin himself. Andy made the disclosure in an interview given to the New York Times." Their initial goal is to automate the woefully manual process of electronics manufacturing.

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will it be "open" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596267)

"Open" like FOSS?

"Open" like Android?

"Open" like goatse?

"Open" like Andy Rubin's mouth for my frosty piss?

Going to change everything (5, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596331)

It's not long. And I don't think people will be ready to cope with the change.
They haven't thought about what a tool which completely replaces a human and which costs less than a human salary means.

At least a generation of severe disruption and even after that very likely structural unemployment over 25%. You will need to change society in some fundamental ways. Basic income is one possibility.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596369)

apple is further ahead in this than google. I think they spent almost $10 BILLION last year on capital expenses which is machinery to produce smartphones and their components. this year its going to be a lot more

Re:Going to change everything (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596491)

Civil unrest begins after unemployment % reaches a threshold. I don't know what the threshold is, but it might be lower than 25% in the US.

Spain and Greece are around 26%-27% unemployment rate and they have had plenty of riots.

Re:Going to change everything (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596559)

Civil unrest begins after unemployment % reaches a threshold. I don't know what the threshold is,

So civil unrest may happen at some point. That's about as useful as saying there will be civil unrest unless there won't. Thanks a lot.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45600211)

Depends how strong the prisons whether their is or not civil unrest!

Re:Going to change everything (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596613)

And displacing electronics manufacturing workers will have what effect on US unemployment, again? As opposed to unemployment in, say, Singapore, China, Malaysia, where electronics manufacturing has moved over the last few decades?

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596721)

You will some businesses move back here. When labor cost is near 0 shipping and handling become a larger concern. So in effect not much at all.

When you have to ship 1 item 5 bucks on s&h is not a big deal. When you have 200k of something it is a big amount if you can cut the cost by 10%.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45600559)

We don't have the infrastructure in the US anymore to support electronics manufacturing. That will have to be completely rebuilt and the obstacles for rebuilding them will have to be removed (the EPA and friends), before companies move back here.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597847)

Civil unrest until they introduce law enforcement robots. After that it was just an arm race and each side try to out do the other by improving their bots.

Re:Going to change everything (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596615)

They haven't thought about what a tool which completely replaces a human and which costs less than a human salary means.

That tool already exists. It's called "junior IT consultant".

Of course it's still unable to socialize with humans, but we're working on it.

Re:Going to change everything (1)

BreakBad (2955249) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596689)

Every time I read articles like this I think of that movie WALL-E (second time I've posted about it today on /.)

Seriously, what is our long term goal as humans? It's obvious companies are trying to save money, but what kind of investment is that for the human race? When we reach this robotic utopia what then? At what cost? Can't answer these questions, don't care. Fuck it robots are cool.

Re:Going to change everything (2, Funny)

BreakBad (2955249) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596705)

And this..

Jack Handey : "I wish a robot would get elected President. That way, when he came to town, we could all take a shot at him and not feel too bad."

Re:Going to change everything (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596899)

in the late 1800's over 90% of the working population was employed in farming. today it's less than 5%. what happened to all these people? why don't we have 90% unemployment? first manufacturing took up the slack. now its office and leisure jobs

1800's there was no entertainment or leisure industry except for traveling musicians. today we have a huge entertainment industry along with a vacation and leisure industry. money doesn't vanish, it gets invested in new businesses

Re:Going to change everything (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597197)

I think you mean the late 1700's. In 1800 90% of US population were farmers. By 1900 farm popultion was under 40%.

And while I agree with you point, I will acknowledge that transformation can be a bitch for those who undergo it. And I would argue for faster, not slower, transformation.

Re:Going to change everything (1)

terryk29 (2756467) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597823)

This is not meant as a dig at the entertainment, artistic, or leisure industries; but is it possible that these economic activities, being arguably optional to our basic maintenance, have up til now depended on a significant economy engaged in more "necessary" activities, like food and manufacturing, with "disposable" income available to spend on the "optional" stuff? Sure, a fair amount of crap food and idiotic manufactured goods can be regarded as unnecessary, but is there a distinction here? For example, in a recession does a tool and die shop suffer less than a movie theatre? And what will our economy do to itself when vast numbers of people are no longer needed to meet our basic needs? IANAEconomist, so any enlightenment (or, smacks to the head, I suppose) are welcome...

Re:Going to change everything (1)

Cigarra (652458) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598819)

What makes you think humans can forever "move on" to more complex tasks once machines start doing their job? Farming and manufacturing is one thing, but what if computers completely replace white collar work? What if the displaced workforce don't find anything else to do, not in one nor in three generations? What will we have them? A 1% owning elite and a 99% pariah caste?

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45599603)

Dont know maybe the population is 200x that and the same amount of people are still working in that industry?

When you compare an apple and an orange at least think about it...

Re:Going to change everything (5, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597319)

Seriously, what is our long term goal as humans?

Oh, I don't know -- maybe not having to spend half our waking hours, for over half our lives, doing something that we'd rather not be doing, except that we'll be homeless and starving otherwise?

Sure, there are some of us lucky enough to get paid for doing what we'd choose to do anyway. There are even a lot of us who would make terribly unwise choices about what to do with our time if we didn't have to work for a living. But if we have a grand refactoring that separates "earning a living" from "having a career", I'm not sure it's necessarily a catastrophe.

Re:Going to change everything (1)

benlad (1368001) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596763)

A "tool which completely replaces a human" would mean we wouldn't *need* jobs. Structural unemployment of 100%! You sound quite negative, but I think it sounds like a utopia.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596873)

You think the guys who pay for the robots are just going to give you stuff?

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596879)

Utopia? Sure, if you're one of the few who own all the robots.

not in this world... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597123)

This is why we need to get books on the law now that make robot rustlin' made a misdemeanor.
That way, it's less hassle to build a replacement robot than it is to recover one hijacked by the disaffected.
Actually, drive the price of robots down low enough, and people won't bother to secure them. You could just have a free global pool of robots, and just find one nearby when you need one.

Re:not in this world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45600851)

Just make sure you weld your brand on it first.

Re:Going to change everything (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597379)

I personally believe in the free market and capitalism and that it can solve this problem. If manufacturing costs drop to something close to zero, then the cost of making robots drop to something close to zero, so everybody will own a robot.

I am saying this a bit tongue in cheek. There will be bottle necks and not everybody will be in the top 1% - it just I don’t expect the bottle necks to be who owns the robots.

Re:Going to change everything (5, Informative)

Saethan (2725367) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597611)

not everybody will be in the top 1%

In fact, I'd be willing to say about 1% of people will be in the top 1%

Re:Going to change everything (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597595)

You'd have to restructure the economy, because when nobody has jobs, then nobody has money with which to buy things.

Re:Going to change everything (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596833)

It's not long. And I don't think people will be ready to cope with the change.
They haven't thought about what a tool which completely replaces a human and which costs less than a human salary means.

Didn't we have the same problem when those newfangled automated spinning and weaving machines replaced handwork? Or is the singularity just around the corner? I guess it must be, since it's always been just around the corner.

Ok, maybe I'm being overly sarcastic, but this does seem like a "sky is falling" issue. I don't think we know what will happen. Predictions are hard to make - especially about the future.

Re:Going to change everything (5, Insightful)

Catbeller (118204) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597235)

The sky did fall. The protestors of the 1800's were correct. The people displaced by technology in the 1800s fell into poverty and early death, and England, for instance, was home to immense poverty and despair. We don't want to remember, which is not the same thing as not-happened. We choose to remember the happy industrialist and middle-class lifestyles which came from impoverishing the workers, not the majority of miserable people they created by re-distributing the wealth from the majority of the working people to their own class.

thing to remember is that the people who were protesting their replacement by machines weren't really asking for history to be rolled back - they wanted to be *cut in on the profits* created by removing them from the books. They wanted some income redistribution. They lost. Since they didn't run university history courses, as industrialists did, they have been expunged from our collective memory and rendered into silly people who didn't want to stop making horse collars by hand.

The price of all this will be misery, violence, hunger and early death for hundreds of millions of people, eventually, if history repeats. Looks like "yes". And no one will want to take notice, other than intense coverage of the violence in the "bad" neighborhoods.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597789)

Just let them die off if they aren't useful to the rest of society.
Everyone should get some minimum amount of an opportunity to be able to provide for themselves. I would be willing to help someone out temporarily if they are trying to live on their own, but I don't want to give away a sizable portion of what I've worked hard to earn to someone can be lazy.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597807)

Looks like the Bell Riots are about right on schedule.

Coming soon to your neighbourhood: one newly minted Sanctuary District...

Re:Going to change everything (3, Insightful)

scamper_22 (1073470) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598197)

While I agree, I think you overstate what they wanted.

People aren't that complicated. They aren't really interested in getting a cut of the profits. They aren't particularly interested in income distribution.

What people want is to be OK. It really doesn't get any simpler than that. And people who used to be OK and then were suddenly not OK being displaced by a machine... are going to protest.

And there's nothing wrong with that. I find the language we have to use today absolutely silly. As if you need to have a moral reason to just want to be OK. We feel the need to demonize profits and say its only fair workers get a cut of the profits. And what about the person who ever had a good job to begin with? And they suddenly not deserving of the cut of profits?

Let's be honest about it. People want to be OK.
And when you have something disruptive, the society had better make sure there are ways to be OK.

Maybe it's income redistribution.
Maybe it's government creating jobs for people.
Maybe it's getting out of government so the cost of living goes down.
Maybe it's organizing work sharing programs so more the actual work is spread out.
Maybe it's training people for new work. ...

Whatever it is... but people just want to be OK... and that's a good enough moral reason to do something. You don't need anything else beyond that. You are a person and you want to live a comfortable life.

Re:Going to change everything (2)

WhatHump (951645) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598349)

Combine this with the impact of climate change on the global food supply, and I fear we are heading into a very dark period. I fear for the world my children will have to live in.

Re:Going to change everything (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598507)

This is the first time I or anyone else on the planet Earth heard the Luddites described as "just wanting an angle". They were uneducated people opposed to Progress - you know, the kind that today we call Progressives. Out with the old, in with the new! Fuck conservatives and Luddites alike - after all, Luddites are just extreme conservatives.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45599233)

But today we have facebook and youtube to document it all.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596953)

Translated -

"Something new may come about that we dont understand the complete implications of, but these are the implications and this is what will happen. Therefore we need to adopt political policy X before these unknown implications that I know will happen do actually happen."

Re:Going to change everything (5, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597051)

It's called a guaranteed minimum income.

The writing is on the wall, and creative endeavors that humans enjoy will dominate more of society. Isn't that what we all want? To do what we want?

The concept is from the right, it's been around for a long time, and it's a fairly straightforward implementation. If a society is rich enough that the production costs approach zero, then ..

Of course, it smells a lot like the dreaded socialism monster. Or worse.. red pink communism!

There's no rocket science here. It will happen eventually, as the poor people get to vote. Either with ballots, or otherwise.

Re:Going to change everything (2)

i kan reed (749298) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597215)

I like to think positively about it, like you do but recent trends seem to show voting rights as fickle and easily removed, while more violent solutions face the reality of militarized drones.

If one characterizes the "war on terror" as an intercontinental class struggle(and I'm not saying that's the most informative characterization, just a useful one), another, far less pleasant, possible future appears.

Re:Going to change everything (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45599967)

It's called a guaranteed minimum income.
What you are saying is minimum wage. The fancy term you have latched onto is 'minimum income' because 'minimum wage' has started to 'sound bad' and is 'demeaning'. As an aside I would ask you where did you pick up this term? These are not your own words are they?

Let me introduce you to something. Your lofty goal of helping the poor. Will only hinder them in the long run.

http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson
http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/chap19p1.html

There is one clear way to help people out. Get them jobs. However any sort of intervention seems to hinder that goal. Picking winners or losers makes matters worse.

If you give everyone 1 million dollars how much will it cost to make and buy/sell a loaf of bread? Eventually the whip of the market will mean you need to give everyone 2 million just to cover their costs.

You are using short term thinking with poor short term results to create long term problems.

The US gov about 10 years ago literally gave money away to everyone. How much did that help? No one knows as they could not even measure it. If you cant measure it how do you know if it will work?

Of course, it smells a lot like the dreaded socialism monster. Or worse.. red pink communism!
Ah yes lets demonize the other group for speaking up and saying 'well that may be a bad idea'.

There's no rocket science here
No, its called economics. They have nearly 150 years of research to back up the fact that min wage laws harm everyone equally. They will make matters much worse than they are now. Much of the 1800 thinking you are using came around because of market distortions by the rich. They made it impossible for people to start new businesses and hire others. Market distortions created for the creation of money or 'public good' usually do not end well. There are a few exceptions. But those are unfortunately rare.

Re:Going to change everything (4, Interesting)

Catbeller (118204) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597087)

More prisons, more Randism, more upper class loathing of the "lazy", less food assistance, less of any financial assistance, removal of affordable housing, drastic anti-loitering laws, and finally really nasty anti-rioting weapons and roundup tactics against agitators.

I'm not describing the dystopic future - I'm describing the reaction right now. And the anti-poor crackdown will only intensify. The riots will be christened "terrorism" and all those lovely laws we've created since 2001 will finally find their real use.

Re:Going to change everything (2)

i kan reed (749298) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597249)

Those laws already found their use. What's more problematic is all the weapons and tactics that have been devised as a means of prosecuting a guerrilla war from the evil empire side.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45598165)

If all the poor are dead, who will fix the robots? Think of the robots!

Re:Going to change everything (1)

invid (163714) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597209)

Give everyone a robot. That robot can go earn a living for them.

Disclaimer: this is a joke. Please don't tell me how this is not practical.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597643)

Wow. Lets smash the looms right now! They have thought about what it means. It means that the average productivity of the human worker increases. A fewer number of workers producing the same amount is an unlikely result of an increase in productivity. This is no different than replacing people in the US with lower cost people in china, so lets look at our current situation. Wages can be expected to be pushed down (put prices also due to lower cost robot labor and lower wages). To prevent a deflationary spiral governments will take on debt and devalue their currency. Have you ever wondered why the government can increase the money supply hugely but prices don't shoot up proportionately? It is because if they didn't devalue the currency prices would crater and there would be an economic collapse due to massive defaults on credit. The great depression was caused by farm workers displaced by farm machines moving to the cities and working in factories, lowering the cost of labor, greatly increasing the supply of manufactured goods and consequently causing their prices to plummet and all the debt of the factories became impossible to carry (as well as farm debt for their machines.) They weren't able to escape until they changed to the current system of monetary policy. Let's be honest about how good we have it in the US right now. You have a giant TV, a smart phone, a computer and a gaming console, more food than is good for you, you work reasonable hours in good conditions, you own a car and have a lot more living space than you need. Better robots to the world are the equivalent of China to the US. If we are being honest with ourselves China would much prefer their role reversed with ours. Their goal is to become equal to the US and they are still very far from it on a percapita basis. That can't happen right now because the global economic pie isn't that big and we currently don't have the technology to make it that big. Better robots are just better technology and push up the standard of living for the entire world by making the economic pie bigger. Better tools and technology always have that effect and now that we understand how to manipulate money supply to dampen the harmful short term effect of such improvements in technology we can be reasonably confident that the disruption caused won't be severe. We actually have better solutions than your basic income suggestion, though it is a safe bet that government will use the debt they take on to finance socialist policies of some sort since government has to find something to expend the over productive capacity of the economy on and socialist programs are populist and win elections. Crucially, socialist programs can only be maintained while advances in technology continue to generate over productive capacity in the economy. You should be much more worried about what happens if we don't come up with better robots.

Re:Going to change everything (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597883)

Basic income is one way.
Work Sharing is another.

I personally favor work sharing because there's going to be a very long period where human work will need to be done.
You won't motivate people to do work if you're handing out enough money for people to do nothing and live a decent life.

Sure, we can all imagine doing interesting or fulfilling work for free or when other people are getting free money. Maybe a university professor, family doctor, researcher...

But would you want to be a doctor working the midnight shift in the ER all the time? Would you want to be the practical nurse cleaning up after the elderly? Would you want to be the guy working in a mine for lithium? Would you want to be the person loading and unloading trucks for supermarkets?

I'd much rather we work share the work we can all do.

Re:Going to change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45600439)

Trans Pacific Trade will make you useless!

Re:Going to change everything (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598131)

"very likely structural unemployment over 25%"? Currently what is the percent of manufacturing employees? With robotics, it will tend to approach Zero. We may be seeing a raise in hiring for Think Tanks?

Woefully? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596345)

Is it woeful that humans are still paid to accomplish some tasks?

Secret? (4, Funny)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596383)

I guess it's not so secret anymore...

Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596427)

Electronics manufacturing uses tons of robotics and has for quite some time. I assume that was meant to be assembly? But even that isn't accurate either.

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597351)

The company I work for has a 5000 sq meter manufacturing facility packed full of robots - and only 5 engineers and 10 technicians. The manufacturing, assembly, packing and shipping are all automated. Even the maintenance is mostly automated.

It is all very secret. Hush hush thing. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596445)

That is why the project manager made the disclosure to NYT. That is how you keep things secret. If you really want people to know about it, he would have tweeted it.

Re:It is all very secret. Hush hush thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597359)

That is why the project manager made the disclosure to NYT. That is how you keep things secret. If you really want people to know about it, he would have tweeted it.

No, he would have given it to the Guardian and Wikileaks... (ducks)

apple is ahead of google (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596505)

apple spent almost $10 billion on machinery and robotics last year. foxconn might make the phones but apple owns all the machinery at all the levels of manufacturing and invests a lot of money to automate the process

2014 expect apple to spend close to $13 billion on capital expenses

So, capitalism will fail and most people seem to.. (4, Informative)

waspleg (316038) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596521)

have an allergy to anything that resembles socialism even if that's what they really want and don't know it (speaking as an American here). I just read an article somewhere yesterday that both Applebees and Chili's restaurant chains are replacing all of their waiters with a tablet based systems.

When there is no work for anyone left and we're all under total 24/7/365 surveillance then what? I can't have Amazon delivering packages to my non-existent residence since robots took our jobs ;) (I'm in IT but it's not like we're immune; no one is).

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596625)

Yeah, the views of the corrupt rich are pumped like baby food through the media, and ridiculous opulence is not compatible with socialism, and rightfully so.

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596645)

Of course, unless I'm talking about a communist dictatorship or oligarchy.

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (5, Insightful)

waspleg (316038) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596691)

(arguably it was never really successful. I'll reference Bill Hicks for that)

        "Now I'm no bleeding heart, okay? But, when you're walking
        down the streets of New York City and you're stepping over
        a guy on the sidewalk who, I don't know, might be dead...
        does it ever occur to you to think 'Wow, maybe our system
        doesn't work?' Does that thought ever bubble up out of you?"

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597069)

So this will be an improvement: we'll have robots to cart the dead people off the streets, so we won't have to step over them.

The first mistake is assuming that we have "a system", something designed from the ground up or at least tweaked by people with a complete and accurate picture of the situation. Not even communist China or the USSR had that. Secondly, many of our attempts to fix "the system" have failed spectacularly, and not because of ill will or sabotage from those with vested interests.

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597641)

we'll have robots to cart the dead people off the streets

But what if they're getting better? What happens if they want to go for a walk?

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (1)

swillden (191260) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597905)

(arguably it was never really successful. I'll reference Bill Hicks for that)

"Now I'm no bleeding heart, okay? But, when you're walking down the streets of New York City and you're stepping over a guy on the sidewalk who, I don't know, might be dead... does it ever occur to you to think 'Wow, maybe our system doesn't work?' Does that thought ever bubble up out of you?"

The guy on the sidewalk will be there regardless of the economic system, because with few exceptions the homeless aren't homeless because of economic reasons. Nearly all of them are where they are because of various forms of mental illness, and the fix for that isn't dumping capitalism, it's reinstating the system of state hospitals to care for the mentally ill, treating them to the degree we know how, and just keeping them reasonably comfortable where we don't. Of course, we need the hospitals to be much, much better than they were; the reason they were largely shut down is because they were houses of horror and it was easier for activists in the 70s to get courts to shut them down and put the patients on the street than to actually get them cleaned up.

Not coincidentally, those hospitals also used to hold a fair number of people who are still in state care, but at much higher cost because they're in prison.

I will grant that state hospitals and similar systems are socialist, so to that extent perhaps socialism is the solution to the guy on the sidewalk. That doesn't mean socialism is the right answer for those who aren't mentally ill.

With respect to people whose jobs are automated away, IMO the right level of socialism isn't to give them a basic living stipend, but instead to help retrain. One thing that most people worried about automation removing jobs don't consider is that the cost reductions due to automation go primarily to reduce the cost of goods, and therefore to lower the cost of living and raising the standard of living, which opens up all sorts of new opportunities for work, in two ways. First, by lowering the cost of living, the disposable income of the (working) masses increases and they start buying services that were previously out of reach, thereby increasing the demand for -- and jobs in -- those services. For example, in the 18th century there were very, very few professional hairdressers. In the latter half of the 20th century it became a very common profession.

Second, the lowered cost of living opens up possibilities for living doing work whose value previously simply wasn't sufficient to support life. It's not often that we think about cost of living decreasing. It seems like it's always going up, but that's because we measure it with devaluing currency, and because our standard of what constitutes an adequate lifestyle is constantly increasing. If instead we fix a particular standard of living and then look at how much time must be put in to earn it, the cost of living has been on a long downward slide for centuries, and automation is going to accelerate that.

I'm not saying that everyone is going to be a hairdresser, and I have no idea what all of the jobs of the future will be. I think the major growth will be in the service sector, because people do like receiving service from people not machines, no matter how competent the machines become. It wouldn't surprise me if the biggest growth areas are all around non-essentials, like art and entertainment. What I am certain of, though, is that as long as people have disposable income they will find things to spend that money on, and that will involve paying other people for goods and services. Many of those goods and services will seem ridiculous fripperies to us today, but much of what we spend our money on today would seem silly to people 100 years ago.

Oh, one other thing I'm certain of: people need to feel that they're earning their own way. Life earned is better than life given, regardless of how it is earned. Welfare is a fast road to unhappy dependency. That's not to say that providing short-term support to people who are transitioning isn't a good idea, but long-term unearned subsistence is a recipe for angry, unhappy people.

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (2)

Garridan (597129) | 1 year,15 days | (#45599067)

With respect to people whose jobs are automated away, IMO the right level of socialism isn't to give them a basic living stipend, but instead to help retrain.

Okay, you seem fairly aware of the issues surrounding mental health and poverty... but you're missing a fairly crucial piece of the puzzle. A large number of people are working at the limit of their abilities. I have a friend who works in a 'special education' program. She stays in contact with most of her students throughout their lives. Many of her students never advance beyond a 5 year-old mental capacity.

Many of our janitors, kitchen staff, assembly line workers, etc. are doing as much as they possibly can. They can all be replaced by robots. They will all be replaced by robots, all in the name of the allmighty buck. These are people who are living happy, productive lives. Take those jobs away from them, and they will become unhappy, agitated... and according to you, the right level of socialism for them is to be institutionalized. That's not 'social'. That's monstrous.

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598883)

The problem is you're stepping over the guy without checking to see if he needs help. If you see a guy who looks like he might be dying, why would you not at least look at him? People not helping others is the problem with society, hoping the 'system' will fix it.

When you have people without compassion, it doesn't matter what kind of system you have, it's not going to work.

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (0)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597419)

Or maybe they'll find other ways to make money, like they did since tractors replaced 90% of the people in farmwork? It's not like the robot revolution will happen overnight......

If you're going to claim that capitalism will fail because machines will replace jobs, they are going to have to explain why this time is different than the last many times machines replaced jobs.......

Re:So, capitalism will fail and most people seem t (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597825)

Because it's happening at a much faster rate to a much greater degree and in every facet of life.

Captcha: capita

Automate electronics manufacturing? (1)

wiredog (43288) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596531)

I was working in industrial automation in that area 20 years ago. Primarily the circuit board industry, although we did build a custom truck bumper chrome plating line for a company in Oklahoma.

Re:Automate electronics manufacturing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596715)

Its true. Nothing remotely interesting has happened in the field in 20 years. Don't know why they are even bothering! These things maxed out with the great bumper construction line in Omaha in 1997. That was the pinnacle of AI and human/robotic interaction, not sure how something so derivative is even news!

Re:Automate electronics manufacturing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597017)

IMO the most likely thing they are hoping to create is a complete re-work technician that can perform secondary operations on a circuit board (currently row after row of minimum wage assemblers)

Over seven (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596551)

"The search engine giant has acquired over seven robotics companies recently"

Eight?

Re:Over seven (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597649)

9000

Speaking of "woefully manual process" (1)

Kevoco (64263) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596633)

I often imagine a crablike or bigdog-like machine that can roam within a perimeter, Roomba style, but outdoors, in possibly poor weather, gathering or flagging anything unnatural, for the purpose of gathering litter from roadsides, around buildings, etc. A beach version would have some sand-sifting capability.

Re:Speaking of "woefully manual process" (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597019)

I, for one, would steal the damned thing and hack it to pick up my neighbors. Lets go Google!

(I suppose it would have to have advertising and Total Informational Awareness type data collection capabilities. Might be a challenge....)

why not clothes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596693)

One thing I've wondered for a while is, why don't we have robots making clothes? I realize that clothes robots, more than any other kind of manufacturing robot, would be the most job-destroying robot (and on a global scale), but are there technical reasons why nobody has done it?

I mean, putting together cellphones is not too far away from putting together circuit boards, which is already automated to a high degree.

Re:why not clothes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596719)

textiles are the first low cost manufacturing to be adopted by a developing nation. china was first making clothes before electronics.
there are still places in the world with huge potential low cost labor pools that are cheaper than investing in robotics. the middle east, india, africa

Re:why not clothes? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597603)

we don't? ..look at your fubu, adidas or whatever cap, their braided branding items on the clothes or whatever.

plenty of cnc going on in the process. ain't nobody stitching them logos by hand.

the reason though why plenty of clothes are done by hand is that plenty of them are one-off runs for one model year. I'd be surprised if plenty of say 501's production wasn't automated.

"Woefully manual"??? (4, Insightful)

Catbeller (118204) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596717)

Woefully for whom? The last few manufacturing jobs in the industry and the people who work them are woeful?

Where the hell is anyone going to get a job other than cleaning rich people's toilets? Hell, there's probably a robot for that.

Shantytowns are illegal most everywhere, so people can't even squat in the mud and eat trash in peace when they lose their livelihoods. Should we just suggest 90% of the planet's human population just get it over with and off itself?

Re:"Woefully manual"??? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597021)

Where the hell is anyone going to get a job other than cleaning rich people's toilets? Hell, there's probably a robot for that.

I hope so. Can we finally get rid of the "people aren't real people unless they work themselves to death" mentality and just accept the fact that you don't need 7 billion people to allow 7 billion people to live comfortably?

Re:"Woefully manual"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597201)

Should we just suggest 90% of the planet's human population just get it over with and off itself?

There will be robots to do that.

Re:"Woefully manual"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597451)

There already are.

Re:"Woefully manual"??? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598455)

That's an interesting idea you have there. Since the planet's maximum capability of humans is about 500 million, and we're at 7 billion and growing, what would be your solution? I like your "just get over it" solution. How can we make this work?

Re:"Woefully manual"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45600037)

I don't see why not; Would do the planet a lot of good.

Google's work for the US military (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45596733)

Google is the R+D arm of the NSA. Obamacare shows, for the umpteenth time, what happens to 99.9% of ordinary massive government driven IT projects. Corruption, incompetence, more corruption, and more incompetence rules in almost every major new governmental endeavours.

Google was created and funded (indirectly, but not really) by forces working on behalf of the US government, in a purposeful attempt to use the 'free-market' mechanisms that can create healthy, viable, highly productive new companies in emerging technology areas.

Google's hardware designs, and software systems, are used by Intelligence agencies across the West to store, process, index and search the unthinkable amounts of data their FULL SURVEILLANCE initiatives are collecting on a daily basis. The reason Snowden 'reveals' that the Intelligence agencies of the West share ALL data gathered about the lives of their ordinary citizens is because THIS is the real intent of Full Surveillance. To gain complete and absolute control of ordinary people- to know what they think, and how they behave, in the most minute detail.

Now Google is moving into the area of providing hardware and software systems for the US military. This does NOT mean that Google itself will appear to create either weapon systems, or the infrastructure that supports them- not directly. It does mean Google is attempting to engage in fundamental R+D that will enable whole new generations of robotic, autonomous killing machine that the US government can use in future wars. The heads of Google (frequently found in Israel participating in extremist zionist events) believe that if America can wage genocidal war with near zero risk of death of US service-people, the US population can be persuaded to enthusiastically support future wars of AGGRESSION against nations like Syria, Iran, and ultimately Russia and China.

Current US defence contractors provide massively over-priced garbage, equipment that frequently is nothing but useless junk. The software and engineering ability of these companies is atrocious when their budgets are considered. Google seeks to shake up the military-industrial complex in the same way it shook up the Intelligence operations of the West.

Utter nonsense about self-driving cars on ordinary roads hides Google's work to create self-driving murder machines for US 'battlefields', where it matters not if a giant robotic tank drives over a bus full of school children (as happened multiple times- but with ordinary tanks- during the invasion of Iraq).

The heads of Google, like Bill Gates, are proud supporters of eugenics, and like him frequently travel the world and declare at various meetings of 'elites' that the world has far too many 'useless eaters' who need to be culled for the sake of the planet. War, they say, is the very best way to get the sheeple accepting such 'culling'.

Google sure does like to dabble. (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,15 days | (#45596911)

Self-driving cars, now robotics more generally? Maybe this sort of exploration is the right thing to do when you've got so much cash. It sure as hell beats those companies that have stopped investing in R&D, but considering how disparate this stuff is from search engines and whatnot, it does strike me as being a bit of a dilettante.

Re:Google sure does like to dabble. (1)

Traze (1167415) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597113)

I don't think it is an aside from Google's only real business model: Advertising. You get cars with billboards of cheap text books, or robots that have loudspeakers shouting about the great properties of this new diet pill.

Misleading summary (2)

imunfair (877689) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597027)

I feel like the editorial comment in the summary is woefully inaccurate. I remember reading an article (probably on Slashdot) a year or two ago about the Apple outsourcing - and someone in electronics manufacturing in the US was talking about how they could do it with robots for the same price as China. The speculation was that they decided to go with China instead because they can make design changes (tell workers to do things differently) in a matter of hours - robot assembly lines aren't quite as flexible.

You also have high level automation in places like the Amazon warehouses, so unless they're just talking about driving down costs I suspect it's far more innovative. Robotic delivery systems to go along with self-driving cars delivering your packages, stuff like that. "manufacturing and logistics markets" has a very broad meaning.

Electronics Manufacturing is already automated (3, Insightful)

braindrainbahrain (874202) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597095)

Exactly what part of electronics manufacturing needs to be automated? The cheap prices and mass production of electronics we currently enjoy is partly due to widespread use of pick-and-place machines [wikipedia.org] and wave soldering machines [wikipedia.org] . I'm sure there are some manual steps in the assembly, but that is only the last 10 - 20% of the labor involved in manufacturing. The bulk of it has been automated for decades.

Re:Electronics Manufacturing is already automated (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597517)

the last 10 - 20% of the labor

I think you answered your own question here. Why shouldn't they automate all of it?

Re:Electronics Manufacturing is already automated (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597711)

The real question is why didn't they automate all of it already. Answer that and you can probably answer "why shouldn't they automate all of it" fairly easily, I should think.

Re:Electronics Manufacturing is already automated (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597601)

> I'm sure there are some manual steps in the assembly, but that is only the last 10 - 20% of the labor involved in manufacturing.

Have you ever had an encounter with the last 10 – 20% of a software development project?

Re:Electronics Manufacturing is already automated (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,15 days | (#45598379)

This part is what they are trying to replace [google.com] . Look at the lines and lines of people. Look at the massive dormitories with suicide nets. Those are the people they are trying to replace.

Chopsticks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45599359)

Never underestimate what a factory worker can do with a chopstick:

The sheer dexterity is mind-boggling. And the low pay most probably too :-(

Re:Electronics Manufacturing is already automated (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45600801)

You know how 20% of the work takes 80% of the time? That's the expensive manual part. So the savings from automation are disproportionate to the fraction that remains to be automated.

`c0m (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45597295)

arseholes at Walnut The 4roject is in

"secret" program (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597681)

which is the reason that everyone knows about that they have one ...

Near-future revolutions aside.. (1)

regular_guy (1979018) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597783)

I hope that the automation systems they'll also consider is waste management and disposal. Sure everything can go into an incinerator if you'd like, but disassembling old electronics en-masse would be more suitable than mechanical/chemical separations if we'll still need the eight 9's of purity we want in the next generation of electronics. The ethics of robots harvesting old robots may need to be considered though when robots' rights start coming into play....

Editors: Bad link in summary (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597853)

The first link in the summary to muktware is 90% ads, with a cheesy Photoshopped headline image and a blurb shorter than the Slashdot summary. That link should be removed.

Even better: Add that site to a blacklist so that Slashdot never links to it again. This is just a blogger trying to make money by getting hits from Slashdot.

More robots? (1)

koan (80826) | 1 year,15 days | (#45597923)

Now we are proper fucked.

No one to copy so it will fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,15 days | (#45598767)

They have no one to copy so therefore it will fail................

Where are you JC? Skylink is getting bigger! (1)

idioto (259918) | 1 year,15 days | (#45599229)

It's unfortunate that this is being done by google, as a company that specializes in information will no doubt hasten the process of the terminators becoming self-aware.

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