This is a semi-weekly feature that scours the internets for news of the coming Robot Apocalypse (#RoboApoc). I rate each item on a scale of 1 to Skynet.
1. Mind Reading AC – This week I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time in the Apple Store, Tekserve, and Best Buy when my intrepid partner in crime (my computer) gave up the ghost in the machine.
When I was at Tekserve I noticed a stack of Aros Air Conditioners. The Aros doesn’t just cool your pre-war third floor walk-up, it is also smart. That’s right, “smart” is no longer for your phone and clothes, it is for home cooling too. You can control it through an app; cool (get it) but not game changing. The Aros learns your behavior and starts to self-program. Oh yeah, and it will keep track of your spending on energy and make suggestions on how to cut costs. Can your dog do that? What about your sweetie?
#RoboApoc rating: 8 – not because I am worried about my AC coming for me, but because of the networked nature and learning signifies something more sinister is afoot. (P.S. The salesnerd at Tekserve actually referenced Skynet when he told me the thing learns about you).
2. Fast Food of the Future, Today – Momentum Machines, a California based technology firm is developing a smart restaurant with complete automation in the kitchens of fast food restaurants.
“Finally, the filth covered hands of America’s underclass will no longer touch the dollar value meals of America’s underclass,” a rich person was heard saying.
Momentum Machines’ smart restaurant is so efficient that all ingredients are freshly sliced (tomatoes), freshly pressed (burgers) and freshly fried (fries) for each order. Not only that, because of cost savings (by not paying those pesky workers) you can have a higher-quality meal (because owners are going to put extra profits back into the products). What does this mean for all the Fast Food Workers who are fighting for a minimum wage? Momentum Machines is promising to work with vocational programs to train former line cooks to become robot engineers. Aren’t they gems?
#RoboApoc Rating: Skynet – first they come for the low-wage workers, then they come for the rest of us.
3. You look old – The Washington Post reported this week that there is a new computer program that predicts what the old you will look like.
While this is super exciting for people who like to plan and be efficient (you can get a head start on the senior dating profile and photoshop future vacation photos), the value here, according to the article, is that it can help predict future health problems based on the prediction of what you will look like (that is a lot of predictions). While the public health benefits seem great, aren’t we worried about insurance companies using the software to jack up premiums?
#RoboApoc Rating: 3 – #instaold #futurelatergram #seniorselfie
4. The Experts Tell Us What to Think – The Wall Street Journal asked some experts, what jobs will robots have in the future? The overwhelming answer is YOURS! What is even more frightening here is that according to the McKinsey Global Institute (referenced in the article) global economic benefits of a digitized and robotized workforce could reach $1.2 trillion by 2025.
$1,200,000,000,000. Where does that savings come from? Firing human workers and increasing the speed and “quality” of production. The question here isn’t, “When will they come for my job?” The question is, “How will I afford a robot made burger when they come for my job and the boss pockets all of the savings?”
#RoboApoc Rating: Skynet – it’s not about the robots, it is about who benefits from their arrival.