Andy Rubin was a visionary and he bailed.
He left Apple to found Danger which was one of the "genesis" products that led to the smartphone era. (1)
He made the next huge leap with Android and almost failed until Google showed up to help him fully execute his vision under their stewardship.
After Android became a very mature business in its own right what to do with the visionary founder?
The article states that "Page is interested in robots" - can you imagine if Larry Page came to you and said "Hey how about you literally build robots all day. You could be Tony Stark and here's $100m to get you started. We'll change the world!"
It's a hard to turn down offer, Rubin accepted and tried to recapture the magic pursuing somebody else's vision.
But it's damn tough to be a founder / visionary under somebody else's thumb, especially when you're set for life financially.
That's a story that never works out, but is played out again and again in technical acquisitions as big organizations attempt to find a place for founders.
Well, maybe that's even why Android is called "Android".
Ex-Head of Google China (before Google's retreat from China), Dr. Kai-Fu Lee visited silicon valley last month and wrote a piece  of about the trends he saw during his trip. One of the things Dr. Lee mentioned was Andy's new startup Playground will have a huge impact on making Robotics mainstream is what Android has done to make smart mobile phones mainstream. Let's see how soon that wave is coming.
The next, and the last.
There's a massive opportunity for a startup to move towards the personal/home robot market and make a killing, without any government help nor without some fabled visionary type person.
Google sought what were essentially military robots from BD. Those machines, if ever turned into a product, would have been tens of millions of dollar each. They make no sense and google cannot solve the problem of loud servos/actuators and the relatively low power density of battery technology. Heck, some BD demos I've seen run on gas engines. When the DoD is your customer, the last thing you want to sell them is a tool that'll give away their soldiers' positions.
I've seen ROS projects on commodity hardware that's 75% of the way to a decent home robot. I think this is doable within the next 10 years. Having a home robot will be like having a smartphone today. We'll wonder how we got along without them. Hell, I'm half-tempted to get into this field myself.
Everything about robots from these big companies has been "big picture" bullshit; big spending, big PR releases, big promises, untried tech, and sadly lots of questionable patent filing sprees. None of these big companies are interested in making a real affordable product it seems, or believe it to be too difficult or unprofitable. Its like they're trying to sell mainframes in 1980 and the PC Jr, Commodore64, Apple //, etc are soon going to eat their lunch. The big iron approach failed in computing the same way its failing in robotics.
If you mean 'failed' as in 'is widely used by all major financial organisations and thousands of businesses besides', sure, big iron failed.
Gates/Jobs couldn't sell you a basement mainframe with a house full of terminals, and for good reason.
One of the points Woz made in his recent AMA at Reddit was that the mainframes have won, pretty much decisively. As everything moves into the cloud, what we think of as computers -- from our watches to our phones to our laptops and desktops -- are really just terminals.
What's a Web browser, after all, if not a highly evolved time-sharing terminal?
The cost of making a system that works under many pretences scales exactly the same as making software that works for any set of criteria.
Shit just doesn't happen.
You're living a pipe dream.
Wait 15 years and maybe. For now, revel that we're advanced enough to automate one task.
In case anyone else wanted to know:
- Mow my lawn
- Stain my deck
- Paint my walls
- Roof my house
- Spread moss killer on my roof
- Clean my gutters
- Spray Raid into hornet nests
- Hunt down and destroy dandelions
Maybe some of these I buy it, and others the painters/roofers buy it. But it seems like there is a lot of opportunity here as hardware prices fall.
The "robot app store" idea alone has never worked for driving adoption... even smart phones originated with phone calls.
I'd pay a few extra thousand for a car that drives itself, or a closet washer/dryer that automatically washes, folds, and stores my clothes, or a fridge that can make basic meals, or a vacuum that cleans my house while I'm out.
Maybe a humanoid robot that does these things will exist one day, but I'd rather have a home that does all these things frictionlesly than share my space with a robot.
This would sell like hotcakes. Perhaps clothes would need some sort of an RFID tag built in to identify their specs (not sure the cost on that) but I would gladly pay a couple grand for a dryer that folds clothes.
A robotic closet that lets you wear your favorite shirt every day... fresh and clean.
Another thing I left off my initial list: surely agriculture must have tons of uses for robotics, with enough scale to justify higher prices.
Agriculture apparently already uses robots
Sure, but they didn't become a must-have item in every pocket until the App Store came along. There was a big jump between selling 500,000 'smart phones'/yr and selling 500,000 per hour...
It would have to be absolutely required for your life at that price. The car is the closest to this given that price point and many people forgo that, so I can't think of anything that you would absolutely need a robot for.
There are a few good applications in healthcare that can (and do!) justify the expense of current robots. Still, it's often easier to target concentrations of people where you can cost-share a robot (eg. nursing homes) rather than operating in individual homes. But problems in nursing homes abound too: abysmal connectivity (no WiFi!), antiquated enterprise sales; excessive regulatory costs (FDA), etc.
Maybe costs will come down... but most "good" applications require manipulation, which makes a "general purpose" robot much more expensive than an autonomous car's sensor suites.
At $3k it's in the range of expensive hobby equipment or gardening machinery, so people might start buying them to show off if it's even slightly useful.
Not sure why I got downvoted for the above... the first iPhone was legitimately not good at phone calls. A big part of that was that the AT&T network wasn't up to snuff at the time, though, and AT&T was the only option.
I thought that was generally how one became a defense contractor? The billboards on DC transit always made me chuckle.
My guess is that patents will cause this process to take longer than most of us will live. Look how long it's taken for competitive robotic vacuum cleaners -- which are probably the simplest domestic robotics applications! -- to emerge, after Roomba's initial land grab.
A literal fleet of robots that could map the ocean BUT also start cataloging all the fish in the ocean.
We talk about seafood collapse, what if there were thousands of robots that would suffice and charge via solar then dive and map and count fish.
That's a fucking vision for robots I would like to see.
Besides a robot that could catalog fish would immediately be outfitted with a spear gun, with disastrous consequences for already-dwindling stocks of large pelagic fish.
Do you think Market's haven't quite priced this in yet? Market's are supposed to be epistemically efficient and factoring in relevant information.
This sort of reasoning is saying that buy-outs are overpriced, so we can make a decision-profit by NOT buying these companies and using your money for better opportunities.
Something has to be up here.
Other times, the kind of personality that propels one into upper management makes him/her a particularly poor choice to execute an acquisition. Consider strong competitive instincts. While that is an excellent trait in certain types of companies, it can be a nightmare when it comes to acquisitions. Hell, highly competitive people can and have raised the valuation of a company several magnitudes beyond reasonable, simply through a bidding process.
In many ways, a competitive acquisition process looks like an auction and all the usual caveats apply.
It's usually not profitable for the company, but for the senior execs it's the best way to acquire more subordinates.
When presented with a conflict between your hypothesis and your data, you have (at least) two options:
(a) reject the hypothesis
(b) posit some hidden data that supports the hypothesis after all
This issue happens most visibly with the overall stock market level which reguarly and blatantly violates any kind of rational discounted cash flow e.g. in the dot.com era.
For example, in the FAQ of Jeff Dean's recent talk in Seoul, he mentioned how Deep Learning has a lot of potential to reinvent the field of robotics. Also, Demis Hassabis recently tweeted about progress in learning 3-D environments. I'd be surprised if Google wasn't looking into general purpose robotics...
Perhaps Google is disappointed in their robotics acquisitions and wants to start from scratch? It seems that they are farther on the software front than anyone at the point. I wonder what they'll do in their hardware/power divisions...
(Also, it kind of seems like Tesla and Google are on a crash course here. Tesla is ahead in power/hardware and is developing a top-tier AI team for self-driving cars. Elon also seems very interested in Robotics + AI. Google seems to be working from the opposite end.)
I think the thing that Google has recognized is that cutting edge robotics research that takes advantage of the work they have already done in deep learning doesn't require the kind of robots that Boston Dynamics (or many of the other companies they bought) build. Cutting edge robotics (from the perspective of learning systems) is back at the level of getting a single arm and a camera to learn basic tasks. In fact, there is a lot of research that can be done in simulation with these new deep methods that doesn't even require hardware.
The software and learning systems they can develop will very likely make their way into super advanced complex hardware like Atlas in the future, but for now it's probably not the best use of their time.
Everything I'm seeing these days with AI research seems to be about developing systems that learn for themselves. Rather than telling the robot/AI exactly how to behave in a given situation, it's about allowing the robot/AI to experience as many situations as possible and learn what the appropriate response should be so that in the future it can independently identify and react accordingly.
The former approach works fine for a factory floor robot that is in a controlled environment but doesn't lend itself well to other situations. An example might be a biped robot walking up a mountain and it falls. Most of the examples I've seen, the Boston Dynamics one included, have the robot detect it's falling and put itself into a crash position where it remains until it comes to a rest before attempting to recover.
If your robot is rolling down a mountain it might be destroyed before it comes to a rest. Having a feedback loop, reflex reactions and the ability to access the situation and recover dynamically would be much more useful.
Agreed. But none of that implies learning. So why are you talking about learning in the beginning of your comment?
This happens all too often in AI conversations. Learning gives you a special and powerful kind of flexibility, of course. But not being able to learn doesn't imply it can't cope with an infinite range of situations. A robot that's unable to learn could be programmed with enough flexibility to walk on any surface it could possibly encounter.
Basically, flexibility and the ability to deal with novel situations is close to synonymous with the ability to learn.
Which is a nice way to say that robotics really hasn't progressed that much in a sense an outsider would see as progress (where progress on outsider-terms would be Boston-Dynamics style robots that can, say, learn task and repeat them), though I'm sure researchers can point to a lot of progress on their terms.
Which is a nice way to say that robotics really hasn't
progressed that much in a sense an outsider would see as
I wrote a post four years ago about all the various huge showstopping technical challenges facing mobile robots: http://c1qfxugcgy0.tumblr.com/post/31187427192/the-enduring-...
Basically nothing has changed since then.
To have a useful anthropomorphic robot you need better:
And, of course, an economically useful anthropomorphic robot has to be dirt cheap, as well.
Indeed, people talking about this subject often don't realize that humans are really cheap in many if not most circumstances (Boston Dynamics is working on poison-gas-protection-suit testing robot. Finally figured out a job a person wouldn't do).
And it's an evil equation where once a given task is mastered by robots, it makes humans cheaper in many other tasks - because it increases the competition and because it decreases the cost of maintaining the human.
So we've seen incremental automation and steadily declining living standards. Not a world that screams out the benefits of technology.
E.g. "Why would I do that for that much? I don't have any driving physical needs pushing me to poison/injure myself performing a dangerous menial tasks for minimum wage." Which puts a floor on human desire to do basic jobs. Which helps continue to support investment in improving automation/robotics. Which makes the world a better place.
Which actually sounds a lot like a carbon tax and the struggles alternative energy sources have gone through. Call it a self-aware employment tax.
I do see the power source as being an issue. Many of the most impressive robots are tethered, but even a tethered humanoid robot could be extremely useful.
Stationary industrial robots, the only real success story of robotics, have great speed and power, at the cost of incredible weight and power consumption.
Consider the Motoman EPX2050.
15Kg payload, pretty okay, (Try holding a 15Kg weight at arm-length) but it masses 540Kg and has a rated power consumption of 5KW. (Three-phase power, of course) And that's just the arm! The NX100-FM controller it's specced with masses another 120Kg.
Mobile robots hate weight. Cutting weight forces a lot of other compromises, in speed, power, and cost.
EDIT: Also for the Motoman, is it possible it needs so much power because of how fast it can move that 15 kg mass around ? There's no beating conservation of energy.
There's your problem right here. The video demo shows it walking freely, but I bet it can only do that for short stints.
The PR2 I discussed in the blog post does indeed have a lithium ion battery pack. It has a 1.3kWh capacity, (188 times bigger than an iPhone 6's battery! Probably part of the reason the robot massed 220 kilos) which gave it a rated... 2 hours of runtime.
Lithium ion is better than earlier battery chemistries, but it's still not very good: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/En...
You can run electric motors far above their continuous rated values for short periods. Also, electric motors specifically designed for brief overloads (high-temperature insulation, temperature sensors) are quite possible. Every automobile starter motor is such a motor. With synchronous brushless motors ("brushless DC" and "variable frequency synchronous" motors are the same thing; motors above a few KW tend to be called the latter) and big power IGBTs, you can have huge torques briefly without much difficulty. If you have the electric power available.
Batteries, maybe. Running time between charges is going to be a problem for a long time to come. There's a huge battery industry trying to get energy density up, with modest success. For many applications, trailing a power cord most of the time is an option. Especially if the robot can plug itself in, which the Hopkins Beast was doing in the 1960s.
The problem is not power density, but torque density. Brushless motors spin really, really fast with low torque, which is the exact opposite of what we need for robots.
SCHAFT found a solution to the more current problem with their ultracapacitor driven water cooled motors. Except one cannot drive said motors continuously and alone they still don't have that much torque, so if one wants more torque more windings must be added.
You can design motors for higher torques at lower speeds but the torque density suffers. Luckily we have compact high reduction gearing to transform high speed low torque to low speed high torque.
If the charging time was close to zero, would this problem be solved, for many applications ?
Or the other alternative, phinergy's aluminum air battery, which has 2000 wh/kg, but cannot be recharged, just replaced and "recycled", but probably in a cost effective way ?
I suspect that's the way it is... everywhere, all the time. That's been my experience.
Everyone knew what to do with a typewriter, even if the visionary leader left. If the person who was saying that microcomputers were going to be the next big thing quit? Nobody else has that idea in their heads.
Cutting-edge areas tend to attract people there for the vision. And the harsh commercial realities of innovative markets mean companies get in trouble if they get complacent. Whereas people in larger, older companies in stable markets can let their vision die and just go on doing whatever worked before. At least until it doesn't work, and then they're screwed.
Or to extend the analogy, if someone goes to IBM as director for New Technology X, and then leaves five years later, what's the likelihood people in New Technology X Division are going to be able take his or her responsibilities over?
Big companies are big companies and they usually don't encourage or reward employees overly much for striking out in a brave new direction. Which is hilarious given that they'll continously try and hire exactly those people externally.
Though I suppose you honestly can't encourage too much rebellion when you make your money from a crank being turned (and happen to need 1,000 bodies to just shut up, turn the crank, and get paid).
Most startups avoid it to begin with. There's a really strong incentive for having a clear mission and high customer focus; many things get easier. Wikipedia has done a good job with "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." Toyota has done a fantastic job organizing around the Toyota Production System. The best restaurants, bakeries, and the like generally have strong shared understandings. The same is often true of multi-generational family firms.
I think even Google did a good job for a long time rallying around "organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful". Which makes this especially sad to me. Around the time of Google Plus and "more wood behind fewer arrows" I think there was a culture shift that is probably irreversible.
Agreed. I find it doesn't hold for most contemporary Japanese corporations though. Their leaders tend to be switchable placeholders whose main purpose is to efficiently represent a consensus view.
Interestingly, though they do have momentum, they seem to lack strategic direction. Perhaps only charismatic leaders can provide the latter. Japan can produce such people (e.g. Morita at Sony) but the current environment values continuity over vision.
Do you have anything you'd suggest I read to get a better understanding of the current Japanese situation? Most of my knowledge is about historic Toyota, which I'm sure gives me a distorted view.
Sorry, my opinion is formed only by observation and discussion with related parties. I don't have any direct experience of Toyota, except with one of their trading company's subsidiaries. Uniquely, this company does have a visionary leader at the helm, yet I believe there is no correlation with the parent's leadership style because Toyota Tsucho is run at arms length.
My rather uninformed opinion of Toyota Motors is that they are succeeding exactly as other Japanese companies used to succeed. If this is right, and I hope not, then they may be fated to see the same stagnation in time. A more optimistic view is that Toyota have something unique. If so, I don't believe it to be charismatic leadership. It would be baked into their culture.
Of note is Toyota's recent decision to invest $1B in AI research in Silicon Valley and Boston. They are trying to get ahead of the coming tech for autonomous driving and factory automation.
I was baffled by this as well, until I got closer to it and got to see "how the sausage is made".
It is amazing what a confident, strong personality can do in a group of people in _any_ setting.
We say this because sausage is tasty, but most people prefer not to see all the animal parts being ground up and stuffed into an intestine.
"Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made."
Yes, companies seem such opaque entities from the outside, but they are mostly driven by the wills of the topmost two layers. Remove key players from those layers and you see billions of dollars moving in strange new directions.
That's what SVP/ director level / C-level people do for a living. They don't barely do any coding or any technical work - they create the vision and hire the people (or buy other companies) to make it real.
Of course, reforming one arm of a business is a lot easier than an entire company, especially if nobody really depends on that arm.
Likewise, sure, a big company has a lot of momentum but it shouldn't take more than a year to realign it.
In a big organization, if the CEO says to do something (i.e. new vision... PKI's!), most people can ignore it with little chance of reprisal. It's much more of a political/social hierarchy than a military one.
Think of it more like a feudal society. At the best of times, the headman at the top has the loyalty of most of the upper levels, and each of those has the loyalty of most of whoever is beneath them. But each of them has their own desires and plans: what they think will make the organization better or make their position in it better. At worse times, you have the War of the Roses or Game of Thrones sort of stuff.
The problem with bringing in outside organizations, like buying Boston Dynamics, is that they have their own, mostly fixed feudal structures, and integrating them is difficult. (Consider, at the very least, someone is going to go from the king of their own personal world to having to ask before they head to the executive washroom.)
A single person with a vision can have a great effect, because they only have to inspire (or convince) a small group of people around them to go along and that small group will bring along their own people. On the other hand, if the person with vision leaves the organization, whatever they were holding together falls apart pretty quickly.
(My favorite example is the Westinghouse(!)-CBS-Viacom thing.)
google paid X for BD
google showed off their latest robots
someone offered 2X for BD.
maintaining and discontinuing BD's government contracts both put google in a tight place.
BD was heavily geared towards defence contracts. That stream is gone. They will now have to do some painful restructuring, I guess Google don't want the bad publicity.
There are probably conversations going on that made the acquisition worth at the time (favour with public figures etc, Google has long been cozy with spooks and military types), and losing those contracts probably changed the equation significantly enough.
So now that their research won't be used for murderbots anymore they're worrying about bad publicity??
P.S.: Although probably not as aggressively self-promoting as the occasional Wolfram Noun Wolfram Verb Wolfram Wolfram.
Here, I found it:
("biologically inspired models of intelligence", I/0 2014)
That's not the robotics domain per se, but if you're the director of engineering at Alphabet/Google, you probably have opinions about robotics.
I'll welcome any material news about him in our our thread, the more recent the better.
There are a lot of problems to be solved before such a thing could work in even an Amazon warehouse along side humans in a cost-effective fashion - and the use of this thing is it's potential working-where-humans-work ability, otherwise it's easier to have automated bookshelves. And I'd choose an Amazon warehouse because it's an ultra-structured, streamlined environment, anything else would be harder.
The contracts that Boston Dynamic had with DoD expired in March 2015 . My guess (BIG UNEDUCATED GUESS) is that the DoD doesn't take too kindly to its contractors not renewing its contracts and these military contracts contradict the corporate culture of Google. What's interesting is that they sold Boston Dynamic exactly a year after the DoD contract expired (donning conspiracy hat).
You may burn some bridges in your example but think of DoD like any other organization. If it's not getting the spotlight, there will be no hard feelings when things turn.
Being that they were the source, best as I can tell.
summary: Schmidt joins board to help an "alphabet" US govt agency or two modernize their operations with industry best practices
editorial: This could be good or bad, depending on how things turn out. And for your weather forecast, it either will be rainy tomorrow, or it won't.
My experience in this area is quite limited, but it's surprisingly difficult to find companies doing this type of research that are not tied to the DoD in some way. DARPA is a major source of funding for these projects, and many of them wouldn't get funded at all without the government.
 Project Azorian not withstanding. Plus, it was funded by the government.
In fact, I can't think of a plausible reason for purchasing them and then putting them up for sale so quickly that doesn't involve political variables.
I found this to be disappointing. More concerned about their brand image than trying to push robotics research forward.
This is a director of communications we are talking about. Literally the beginning, middle, and end of her job description is "Consider our brand image." If she sounds overly concerned about Google X's brand image, that's because it's her job. Google pays her so that the rest of their employees don't have to be so concerned.
Basically every company on the planet with more than 20 people in it has someone making strategic decisions like this. The only difference here is we have a whistleblower reporting what she says internally. There's just about zero to learn about Google's priorities from her priorities, except that none of her immediate superiors is banging the drum for a PR battle over DoD robots.
"Let's not comment" is, I think, the default position of PR departments everywhere on everything unless there is a crisis or a marketing campaign going on. Throwing fuel on a fire isn't wise unless you want there to be a fire.
Still, we don't have the actual context: this could just be a department head bloviating on a thread she probably shouldn't have been included on in the first place.
If anything, the real concerns about their research should be their ties to the DoD and the military use of robots.
It's arrogant to push something forward in the face of widespread opposition, instead of finding an agreeable way forward.
- Guaranteed income, or at least a stopgap like the old welfare system, but with far less means-testing and much more generosity
- Universal, free higher education
- Free, universal health care
- Smart, flexible regulatory apparatus
- A complete rethought system of unions (a la Sweden)
- Massive push (or even buildout) of dense urban housing developments. Make the modern "company town" an explicit goal if you must, then expand it to regions across the country
I really wonder if the Nordics have a leg up on us here; they're already 3/4 of the way towards this ideal, both in terms of policy and a cultural understanding of the benefits of a truly progressive taxation system/public goods and services. Would a Danish or Finnish robotics company bail out just because of fear of backlash, or would they say "society already has you covered, people"?
It always strikes me a bit odd when someone from SV comments on societal questions. People from different backgrounds and different walks of life don't obviously share the same worldview, of course those people well off have a harder time relating to those lower on the economic spectrum. But somehow it feels almost like there's a physical discontinuum between the "tech" people, and other people, who don't breathe and live their work, who are just happy to keep whatever job that keeps food on the table. I believe a big part of this is that most folks, contrary to tech, don't have to actively learn on the job. That's why the common answer to start re-educating yourself isn't really a viable alternative for most average people in their 30s-40s.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's very much unfortunate that societal issues get in the way of progress that in the long run will make everyone better off. I'm just saying that the things you have listed aren't necessarily the only factor in solving this problem. It's like considering people and their lives only as a function of income and expenses, when there are really a host of other factors also at play here.
The items I've listed would help us actually move forward to help people survive and navigate the new world: to give them individual agency, autonomy, and safety in a world where lifetime employment is gone; traditional unions are weak and/or are protecting jobs that may themselves be automated / cannot be created in numbers high enough to make up for massive job losses; the free agency/gig/Precariat economy is growing; and jobs are being automated away (even if Google has decided to step away for now.)
Identity factors, habits, location/mobility, etc. are all very important. Policy is meant to help provide a baseline for existence, not act as a panacea.
There will have to be logistical changes: many people will move to urban areas, as the UN predicts 2/3 of the world will live in by 2050, which are easier to provide services to, have high-quality educational institutions, and obviously what's left of many of the jobs.
There will have to be habit changes: those who want to compete will likely have to embrace autodidactism-for-life / training-for-life (free college / cheap online learning makes this one much more palatable.)
There will also have to be the hardest changes of all: cultural ones. We'll
have different classes of people, many of whom will not be engaged in traditional work. Treating the latter as lazy slackers or parasites that deserve to starve will have to go, first and foremost.
We'll have people who still work, and who do much better than those that don't. With proper tax policy and others that I've outlined, we'll hopefully be
able to avoid massive wealth gaps / concentration that could lead to
massive social upheaval. Some will be managers, developers, business owners,
etc. Others will still be in the gig economy, but will exist within it
while working from a much more stable base. Being on a "zero hours" contract or working as an Instacart shopper will be much less punishing if you can always
afford a place to live.
We'll have the "socializing/partying" class that may just get drunk, do drugs, and hang out with their friends, etc.
We'll have people who do spend their time mostly consuming media
(video games, movies, news, etc.)
We'll have people who just sit around learning new stuff because they enjoy
doing so; the idea of a lifetime of academia becomes much more appealing
when you're not perpetually on the verge of starvation.
We'll have people who create music, art, social media posts, and image memes
full-time without worrying about paying the rent.
We'll have people who finally get to play sports or make handicrafts like
they've always wanted to.
The biggest adjustment we'll have to make: people will be required to find their own meaning if they can't work, and so cannot derive their identity from their job as they have in the past. Jaron Lanier's "multiple overlapping hierarchies of status" will become ever more important (from both sides: creation/participation and consumption.)
Politics and policy are just the start.
Your comment reminded me of Star Trek: First Contact when Lily asks Picard about the lack of money and he said we work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity. Ever since that movie I was always fascinated with that unseen part of Star Trek canon where somehow the world figured out how to finally stop warring and competing and made human progress a first priority. I'm thinking we'll be in a few more wars (over resources) before we get there. Especially if our man-made climate change screws everything up.
Also, makes me think a bit differently about companies like Uber etc. They are essentially enabling a part of the mechanisms you're talking about.
And why so many of the the Linus Torvaldses and Elon Musks of the world head for the US as soon as they're able to.
Maybe social justice -- or at least your idea of it -- isn't the last, best purpose of humanity after all.
Just a few example companies: Skype, Spotify, Mojang
Example technologies: Bluetooth, pacemaker, AIS (like GPS), first LTE system. More, just from Sweden: http://www.swedenabroad.com/ImageVaultFiles/id_19367/cf_347/...
As far as people coming to the US, there are totally understandable reasons. We have excellent universities, more people (which matters: bigger local market, larger talent pool, more companies to work for, etc.), and we also have legacy clustering effects (NYC for finance and ads, SV for chips and startups.) These advantages are obviously very significant. There's absolutely no reason we cannot combine those advantages, our highly entrepreneurial culture, and the best the Nordics have to offer to be even better; that's part of what the "Silicon Valley Democrat" idea is about, and influential people there support it (that's where the idea comes from, obviously.) Even YC is doing research into the GBI.
This implication here wasn't about that, though; it was about what we'll be forced to do if we don't want to simply leave the masses unemployed and eventually storming the metaphorical--or literal--gates. That will require some or all of the above list.
Maybe social justice -- or at least your idea of it -- isn't the last, best purpose of humanity after all
Woah. Talk about a non-sequitor. What's one thing have to do with the other?
I responded by pointing out that Google was formed here, in the USA. The US is a country in which those values don't generally prevail and -- in any event -- where corporations are not responsible for upholding them.
I asked, more or less rhetorically, if there was perhaps a reason for that.
The OP responded by citing some counterexamples that more or less agree with my point, which I thought was an interesting way to argue. Skype was purchased by Microsoft (and let's not talk about Nokia, right?), while the founder of Mojang is living like a king of old Arabia in one of the most expensive homes ever sold in the US. We're apparently doing something right that those other countries are not.
More seriously, it's pretty clear by this point that a rising tide lifts all boats, even under conditions of inequitable income distribution. I don't see anyone from the US trying to break into Cuba or Venezuela, do you?
Alphabet should be pushing for more efficient governments, with an 's'. Americans need to let the world pony up more for safe international trade, and stop being so damn wasteful with ever increasing taxes and debt. Society will cover you when it's wealthy enough. Got to get there first though.
I think that's a lot of why they really sunk the Google Glass project after the privacy backlash started appearing heavily in the media.
I loved my Glass, I still would prefer it over smartwatches sold today. But now it's kinda abandoned.
I actually was angry I couldn't turn off auto-upload, and never used the camera. Would've been more than happy to have a model without it.
I wouldn't be surprised if they scale back on the hardware side of self-driving cars as well.
We're actually not that stingy on education either:
Next even the companies themselves will leave.
Do people really not realize the consequences of these types of actions?
But I don't think many teachers will teach for free. And the ones that do might not be as qualified.
You could force them to teach for free, but thats hardly ethical.
Point being, lets call a spade a spade. They're tax-funded education, tax-funded healthcare. This is what we should be calling it. Because that is what it is.
Thats not to say I'm opposed to those things.
That vision is nice and all, until you have to tell all the rich people and corporations that they must give away most of their income to sustain a "guaranteed income" future for everyone.
I'm not saying I disagree with it - in fact I agree - I'm just saying Google would have to be ready to fight for that and ask for higher taxes to pay for that income and other benefits for the whole population.
Peaked in FY 2012, went to nothing (negative?) after Google X bought it at the end of 2013. Not sure if that is more because Google X wanted a real product, or that the defense dept didn't want to continue the relationship, or what.
The marine corps passed on big dog as "too loud" at the end of 2015, that killed a potential customer for that product.
and if you look at the latest gen, the robots clearly are quieter-so BD is still listening to the needs of the military.
My take: This company can make boku bucks selling to the military, but not while Google is the parent. They've had military applications in mind this whole time, but held back from making the sales. To let this company soar, it needed to get out from under the google umbrella.
Google wont sell to the military, but apparently they will fund years of R&D for military use cases. Unfortunately the sale price that google will get for BD will take into account the future Military contracts that will be available now. Meaning Google will be indirectly profiting off selling robots to the military.
That was apparently a subcontractor failure. The prototype BigDog was powered by an off the shelf constant-speed gasoline engine driving a generator and hydraulic pump. This was inefficient, but good enough for the R&D version. The LS3 militarized version was supposed to have a quiet variable-speed Diesel plus some battery backup. (The US military is all-Diesel now. Gasoline tankers have no place in modern combat, where there are few secure rear areas.) So there was a subcontract for a small custom variable-speed Diesel engine with hydraulic pump and generator, with stringent noise and weight limitations. That apparently didn't work out as well as had been hoped. Quiet, tiny Diesels are hard.
Also, what would be the range of running the LS3 on batteries, then the recharge time with an on-board diesel?
They demoed warehousing robots that could automate some lifting, transporting, shelving tasks. There was definitely commercial potential there.
Yeah, does anyone know if BD paid the DoD ~3.5M in 2014? I haven't seen that kind of thing before.
(Incidentally, looking at the detail for year 2014, the total giveback was $5M. It was balanced by $1.5M of receipts in another category.)
Observe the Innovator's Dilemma in effect: a successful company is putting too much emphasis on customers' current needs, and fails to adopt new technology or business models that will meet their unstated or future needs.
When realized, humanoid robotics will make the (self-driving or not) entire car industry seem like a quaint little side business.
Sex robots is one area where humanoids will be strong. But I think that's one area where a lot of humans will draw a line. Many humans won't even date someone with different skin color yet, let alone another species like a robot.
There is maybe a marketing advantage in the fact that they look like people so they might be seen as more trustworthy or comfortable. But there's the uncanny valley thing too. And with the little robots people will already have gotten really comfortable with, like, their kitchen counter robot making them coffee and breakfast long before a compelling, affordable humanoid robot exists.
I guess humanoids might make good spies if you can make them indistinguishable from people, but that's pretty sci-fi. And people who want to boss around a slave that has human feelings and stuff, but who don't like the idea of owning a human would be pretty into humanoids.
But all of this seems like fairly niche interests to me?
* Automatic ability to integrate into environments designed for humans. Think doorknobs, ladders etc.
* All the advantages of legged locomotion over wheels.
* Once you have legged locomotion down you might as well do it on two legs and add some arms, and voila you have a humanoid robots.