Robot racism? Yes, says a study showing humans’ biases extend to robots

Robot Racism

“Robots And Racism,” a study conducted by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in New Zealand and published by the country’s University of Canterbury, suggests people perceive physically human-like robots to have a race and therefore apply racial stereotypes to white and black robots.

Have you ever noticed the popularity of white robots?

You see them in films like Will Smith’s “I, Robot” and Eve from “Wall-E.” Real-life examples include Honda’s Asimo, UBTECH’s Walker, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, and even NASA’s Valkyrie robot. All made of shiny white material. And some real-life humanoid robots are modeled after white celebrities, such as Audrey Hepburn and Scarlett Johansson.

The reason for these shades of technological white may be racism, according to new research.

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The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow

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July 2019 | Report

The health of local economies today will affect their ability to adapt and thrive in the automation age.

The US labor market looks markedly different today than it did two decades ago. It has been reshaped by dramatic events like the Great Recession but also by a quieter ongoing evolution in the mix and location of jobs. In the decade ahead, the next wave of automation technologies may accelerate the pace of change. Millions of jobs could be phased out even as new ones are created. More broadly, the day-to-day nature of work could change for nearly everyone as intelligent machines become fixtures in the American workplace.

Until recently, most research on the potential effects of automation, including our own, has focused on the national-level effects. Our previous work ran multiple scenarios regarding the pace and extent of adoption. In the midpoint case, our modeling shows some jobs being phased out but sufficient numbers being added at the same time to produce net positive job growth for the United States as a whole through 2030.

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The next big inequality crisis

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Think polarization and inequality are bad now? Buckle up: big cities are poised to get bigger, richer and more powerful — at the expense of the rest of America, a new report by McKinsey Global Institute shows.

Why it matters: McKinsey’s analysis of 315 cities and more than 3,000 counties shows only the healthiest local economies will be able to successfully adapt to disruptions caused by the next wave of automation. Wide swaths of the country, especially already-distressed rural regions, are in danger of shedding more jobs.

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Robots ‘will take 20 million manufacturing jobs over the next decade’, report warns

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People have long been nervous about robots and artificial intelligence taking over human jobs – but the next decade will see the process shoot into overdrive.

During the next decade, machines will displace 20 million manufacturing jobs, a report by analyst firm Oxford Economics suggests.

That amounts to 8.5% of the global manufacturing workforce, with each robot displacing 1.6 workers on average.

The report says that robotisation is accelerating due to falling costs, with the average unit price of a robot falling 11% between 2011 and 2016, CNN reported.

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Remote jobs are exploding and salaries can top $100,000

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The lure of remote work is obvious. You can save on the costs of a formal work wardrobe, lunches out and commuting.

Until now, you might have been limited in your choice of jobs. That’s changing. Some fields had an increase of more than 50% in remote jobs in the past year, according to FlexJobs.

More than 4 million employees — slightly more than 3% of the U.S. workforce — work from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics, a telecommuting research site.

Certain careers offer more remote jobs than others. FlexJobs found that seven fields had high rates — more than 50% — of remote career opportunities over the last year.

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World’s population is projected to nearly stop growing by the end of the century

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For the first time in modern history, the world’s population is expected to virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the United Nations.

By 2100, the world’s population is projected to reach approximately 10.9 billion, with annual growth of less than 0.1% – a steep decline from the current rate. Between 1950 and today, the world’s population grew between 1% and 2% each year, with the number of people rising from 2.5 billion to more than 7.7 billion.

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Special report: Our plastic planet

 

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We have sipped, packaged and played our way into a global plastics crisis.

Why it matters: Activist consumer groups are pushing for less use, and to some extent, less production, while industry aims for increased recycling.

The big picture: Plastics demand is projected to only increase — and the footprint of plastic pollution with it.

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There’s a retirement crisis in America where most will be unable to afford a ‘solid life’

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The three “legs” of the retirement “stool” (private savings, pensions, and Social Security) are all in dire shape.

At Vanguard, the median 401(k) account value for an investor age 65 and older is a measly $58,035.

After looking at the data, the Saint Louis Fed concluded: “It could be worrisome that, for many American households, the total balances of their retirement accounts may not be sufficient to ensure a solid life in retirement.”

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Top 10 technology trends transforming Humanity beyond cyberspace, Geospace and Space

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Human interest in exploring the unknowns has always been universal and enduring. While, over the years, the nature of exploration has changed fundamentally, humans have always been keen to explore the unknown and discover new worlds: be it beyond our geographical boundaries, new trade routes, lands, or opportunities in cyberspace, geospace, and space (CGS). In pursuit of unknowns, it is our imagination, ideas, innovations, and inventions that are helping us push the boundaries of our exploration limits beyond CGS. It is the never-ending human drive that pushes us further to discover new worlds. Imagination has always been an indicator of human intelligence, and each new idea and innovation is helping us push the boundaries of human exploration further. Technology, which gives us the foundation on which we can define and design the human ecosystem beyond cyberspace, geospace, and space, is pushing these boundaries. Where would it take us in the coming years?

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What are the values that drive decision making by AI?

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A screen shows a demonstration of SenseTime Group Ltd’s SenseVideo pedestrian and vehicle recognition system in Beijing, China, on Friday 15 June 2018.

Moral technology

Self-driving cars don’t drink and medical AIs are never overtired. Given our obvious flaws, what can humans still do best?

A five-year-old boy is helping his grandmother cook by cutting out biscuits from the dough she’s made, and he’s doing it rather badly. He instructs the family robot to take over and, even though the robot’s never done this before, it quickly learns what to do, and cuts out the biscuits perfectly. The grandmother is rather disappointed, remembering fondly the lopsided biscuits, complete with grubby fingerprints, that her son had charmingly baked for her at that age. Her grandson continues to use the robot for such tasks, and will grow up with pretty poor manual dexterity.

When the boy’s parents come home, he says: ‘Look, I’ve made these biscuits for you.’ One parent says: ‘Oh how lovely, may I have one?’ The other thinks silently: ‘No you didn’t make these yourself, you little cheat.’

Artificial intelligence (AI) might have the potential to change how we approach tasks, and what we value. If we are using AI to do our thinking for us, employing AI might atrophy our thinking skills.

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Earth’s magnetic north pole has officially moved

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This map shows the new location of the magnetic North Pole (the white star). NOAA NCEI/CIRES

Earth’s magnetic North Pole has drifted so fast that authorities have had to officially redefine the location of the magnetic North Pole. The extreme wandering of the North Pole caused increasing concerns over navigation, especially in high latitudes.

Earth’s magnetic field is known to have wandered and flipped in the geologic past. Earth’s magnetic field is a result of spinning molten iron and nickel 1,800 miles below the surface. As the constant flow of molten metals in the outer core changes over time, it alters the external magnetic field.

What we’ve seen in the past hundred years is that the location of the magnetic North Pole has moved northward. That migration of the magnetic North Pole was switched into overdrive in the past few years, causing the pole to rapidly move. The increased speed with which the magnetic North Pole has moved prompted authorities to officially update its location. The official location of the magnetic poles is specified by the World Magnetic Model, which acts as the basis for navigation, communication, GPS, etc. around the globe.

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Book sales are up this year over last year, and physical books are thriving

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It’s a tale as old as time, or, at least, the internet: None of us are reading any more, the physical book is dead, Amazon has killed the independent bookstore, and it’s all only going to get worse. But this year, the story looks like just that—a fiction. We are buying books—especially the kind with physical pages—and we’re doing so, increasingly, in well-loved indie bookstores.

In the UK, the Guardian reports, Nielsen BookScan recored year-on-year book sale growth of 22 million pounds ($28 million). It’s likely that 2018 will top 2016’s total sales of 1.59 billion pounds, too, with booksellers on both sides of the Atlantic noting an anecdotal uptick in sales and browsing customers. It’s been good news for British book chains—the country’s largest bookseller, Waterstones, made its first profit since the 2008 financial crisis—and for independent bookshops, too: this year was the first since the advent of Amazon where the number of stores actually went up, rather than down.

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