Showing posts with label online. Show all posts
Showing posts with label online. Show all posts

Is there a 'dark side' to Amazon drones, Google robots?

Amazon

I've got Amazon.com drones in my future.

I use Amazon's Prime delivery service for everything from rechargable batteries to art books to beef jerky, and so I was quite taken aback when CEO Jeff Bezos showcased a drone delivery system called Prime Air on 60 Minutes this past weekend. The idea is that packages below five pounds could be delivered straight from Amazon distribution centers to customers within 30 minutes using drones.

For now, it seems like half pipe dream, half pseudo-marketing: As many have observed, it probably wasn't a coincidence that the 60 Minutes segment aired on Sunday ahead of Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year -- a good time for Amazon to be in the news.

Since Sunday's show, media coverage of Bezo's plan has overwhelmingly focused on the technical and logistical aspects of Prime Air.

For example, will the FAA be okay with all these drones flying around? Are they safe enough to fly around crowded cities and neighborhoods? And can Amazon economically operate what would be a presumably large fleet of drones?

And Amazon's not the only one in this game. The Verge reported that United Parcel Service is researching delivery drones, too.

Additionally, we learned this week that Google acquired seven robotics companies, which, according to a New York Times report, "are capable of creating technologies needed to build a mobile, dexterous robot."

Remember, Google has been experimenting with driverless cars, and is actually running a same-day delivery service in California, so it is definitely interested in humanless logistics, for lack of a better term.

The Dark Side

I find it a bit disturbing how little conversation there is about the possible negatives of replacing humans with machines for things like delivering packages.

Here's a passage from the Times' article that actually startled me a bit:

A realistic case, according to several specialists, would be automating portions of an existing supply chain that stretches from a factory floor to the companies that ship and deliver goods to a consumer's doorstep.

"The opportunity is massive," said Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at the M.I.T. Center for Digital Business. "There are still people who walk around in factories and pick things up in distribution centers and work in the back rooms of grocery stores."

In terms of the massive opportunity, it certainly isn't for the middle class. Mr. McAfee himself discussed this issue in a June piece from the M.I.T. Technology Review, fittingly titled "How Technology Destroys Jobs":

New technologies are "encroaching into human skills in a way that is completely unprecedented," McAfee says, and many middle-class jobs are right in the bull's-eye; even relatively high-skill work in education, medicine, and law is affected. "The middle seems to be going away," he adds. "The top and bottom are clearly getting farther apart." While technology might be only one factor, says McAfee, it has been an "underappreciated" one, and it is likely to become increasingly significant.

And what about the people who make a living in the back rooms of grocery stores? Should we simply write them off as left behind because machines are more productive?

Here's more from the Times' on Google's Andy Rubin, the engineer behind the Android operating system who is now heading up the company's robotics effort:

"I have a history of making my hobbies into a career," Mr. Rubin said in a telephone interview. "This is the world's greatest job. Being an engineer and a tinkerer, you start thinking about what you would want to build for yourself."

He used the example of a windshield wiper that has enough "intelligence" to operate when it rains, without human intervention, as a model for the kind of systems he is trying to create. That is consistent with a vision put forward by the Google co-founder Larry Page, who has argued that technology should be deployed wherever possible to free humans from drudgery and repetitive tasks.

Well, there are a lot of people who earn honest livings from drudgery and repetitive tasks.

My father dropped out of school at a pretty early age. But he went to trucking school and learned a skill that allowed him to earn a good living doing something he enjoyed. In fact, he'd still be doing it at 71 if he could get his big belly up into the cab.

Nonetheless, as much as he liked his job, he certainly experienced a lot of drudgery and repetition -- there was a lot of waking up at 4:00 a.m. to do round trips from Brooklyn to Indiana, and an awful lot of late nights on the road.

But would it have been better for that job to not exist?

The Great Debate

There's no standing in the way of technological advancement. But we shouldn't gloss over the inevitable friction that comes with evolution, especially since in this case, the end result looks like a class war.

The victims of this relentless innovation in automation will be, at least initially, people who work in factories, for delivery services, and in service industries like retail -- not the programmers and entrepreneurs who reap the economic benefits of increased productivity.

The good news is that a truly automated world still seems pretty far off.

But that's exactly why we should be talking about it now.

source:  usatoday.com

Apple shares hit high for 2013 on holiday hope

Apple products are not only hot selling items this holiday, they are also popular online buying tools

The first customer of the tablet iPad in an Apple Store in Amsterdam
The first customer of the tablet iPad in an Apple Store in Amsterdam
 Apple shares rose to the highest level this year as investors bet products like the latest iPads and iPhones will be hot sellers this holiday, helping the consumer technology giant kick-start earnings growth again.

The stock climbed 1.9% to $556.07 Friday. Earlier in the day, it touched $594.59, a 2013 high.

Apple unveiled two new iPhones earlier this year and more recently launched the new iPad Air and an upgraded iPad mini.

The iPad mini was among top sellers at Walmart on Thanksgiving, while Target said the iPad Air was a hot item at its stores. On eBay.com, one iPad was selling every second as of midnight on Thanksgiving.

"Apple products should be the holiday gift of choice this year," said Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group. "The company has a great product cycle currently, the stock is cheap and we expect $600 within the next several months."

Apple gadgets are also popular shopping tools. Mobile devices running on the company's iOS operating system -- basically iPads and iPhones -- made up more than a quarter of all online traffic to major retail websites early on Black Friday. These devices also accounted for 18% of all online sales in the period, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

Apple shares have lagged technology sector rivals and the broader stock market this year on concern about a lack of earnings growth and a slim pipeline of new products.

However, investors have recently become more confident that earnings growth will resume in 2014, according to Walter Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG.

There's also hope that China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in that country, will soon start selling Apple products, he noted.

Japan's largest carrier, NTT Docomo, recently started offering iPhones and that helped Apple grab 76% of smartphone sales in the country in October, according to research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

"We would attribute the recent jump [in Apple shares] to a combination of renewed China Mobile speculation and strong product positioning heading into the holidays, including much improved iPhone supply," said Will Power, an analyst at RW Baird.

Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, checked 60 Apple stores recently and found that 90% of iPhone 5s models were available on average. That was up from 31% two weeks earlier and 10% at the beginning of October.

"We view the improvement in supply as an encouraging sign that Apple has begun to catch up to demand," Munster wrote in a note to investors.

source:  usatoday.com

A new iPhone 6 "Air" thought emerged online and included Moto G's new customizable feature

The new thought image is made by brightknight08. The iPhone 6 "Air" options an all-new style with a iPad Air-like body and has customizable colors. There are new buttons likewise, together with a backlit proximity device in situ of the house button and a silent button featured at the highest that conjointly functions because the iPhone's power button. Moreover, brightknight08 packs a four.6 in. Full HD screen show with 450 ppi within the iPhone 6 "Air".

A new iPhone 6 "Air"

The recently discharged Moto G conjointly boasts customizable feature that permits users to vary the colors of the French telephone. Moto G turned the heads of the many shoppers because the smartphone prices $179 for its 8GB variant.

According to the most recent rumours, the coming iPhone 6 options could embrace a star wireless charging feature. one in every of the foremost common complaints on iPhones is quick depleting battery capability. This feature aims to supply answer to the aforesaid drawback.

This feature is supported by a patent filed by Apple back in Gregorian calendar month. Apple secured a patent for the utilization of star panels in moveable devices. This integrated bit device and star assembly would involve integration social cells into barely screen by victimisation electrodes that may pull double duty as a photovoltaic cell and barely device.

Another rumoured feature that's creating the rounds is that the use of a very sturdy Sapphire glass for the smartphone's screen show. Apple already used the technology on the duvet of iPhone 5S and bit ID home button. Sapphire glass is roughly two.5 times stronger than the glass presently utilized in smartphones, several of that use pongid Glass from Corning.

Rumours claimed iPhone six can escort larger screen show with a variety of four.8 to six inches. several analysts foretold that Apple can finally pack a much bigger screen on the iPhone six. Also, consecutive Apple flagship smartphone could keep the iPhone 5S' 64-bit A7 processor, M7 graphics chip and also the fingerprint device. consecutive generation of iPhone may additionally embrace options close to Field Communication and bigger internal storage that were skipped within the current French telephone.

iPhone six unharness date continues to be unconfirmed . there have been speculations that the disclosing can happen january 2014. However, reports claimed that Apple is adding additional suppliers to extend the supply of iPhone 5S because of its sturdy demand.

Apple pencil for iPad