How the Pandemic is Sparking a Global Surge in Robots and Automation
The Covid-19 Pandemic is causing online commerce to skyrocket as consumers and businesses turn to vendors like Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba. This unprecedented surge in demand puts tremendous pressure on warehouses and transport centers, which struggle to hire workers willing to work in close quarters.
Robots are coming to the rescue. Recent advances in automation combines data, computing, and AI to allow robots to learn from examples. I'll summarize these exciting advances and describe how new research allows robots to reliably grasp novel objects from bins and shelves. I'll also describe how Covid-19 is increasing the adoption of robots in healthcare and agriculture that will persist long after the pandemic, and discuss how AI and robots complement human skills, allowing us to focus on what humans do best: innovation, empathy, and communication.
Musk vs. Zuck: Are AI and Robots a Threat...or an Opportunity?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has surpassed humans at Jeopardy and Go, and driverless cars are widely believed to be around the corner. News articles claim we’re on the brink of a "Singularity" where robots will steal 50% of our jobs. Are AI and Robots an existential threat to humans as Elon Musk warns? Or is Mark Zuckerberg right in stating that humans have many good years ahead? "Automation Anxiety" has a long history, with widespread pronouncements about the imminent loss of jobs to Automation in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1980s. Drawing on his experience as a robotics and AI research expert, Goldberg explores these issues in three parts: 1) What Isn’t New, 2) What Is New, and 3), How We Can Prepare. Ultimately, Goldberg reveals how new innovations will empower humans, not replace them, revealing the power behind new trends from “multiplicity” to "cloud robotics" and more.
Robots with Their Heads in the Clouds
The next generation of robots will be more social than solitary. Rather than viewing every robot as an isolated system with limited computation and memory, roboticists are now exploring how robots and automation systems can actively exchange information and resources via networks. Building on emerging advances in cloud computing, big data, open-source, and the Internet of Things, this paradigm has potential to significantly increase the capabilities of robots and automation systems.
Cultivating the Uncanny: Art, Fear, and Fascination with Technology
Engineers, animators, and designers apply the concept of the Uncanny Valley to technologies from AI to Robots to Siri. In 1919, a year before the word “robot” was coined, Sigmund Freud published an influential essay tracing the concept of the Uncanny back to the Renaissance. Goldberg illustrates this history with art that explores the shifting borders between the digital and the natural, including his Emmy-nominated short doc film that explores our collective fear and fascination with robots, the most human of our machines.
The Future of Brainstorming
To brainstorm at the scale of social media, we can use techniques from an unlikely source: Robotics. Goldberg presents recent results on social innovation and collective brainstorming work with the U.S. State Department, General Motors, and the State of California.
Putting the Turing into ManufacTuring: Recent Developments in Algorithmic Automation
Automation for manufacturing today is where computer technology was in the early 1960's, a patchwork of ad-hoc solutions lacking a rigorous scientific methodology. CAD provides detailed models of part geometry. What's missing is formal models of part behavior and frameworks for the systematic design of automated systems that can feed, assemble, and inspect parts. "Algorithmic Automation" introduces abstractions that allow the functionality of automation to be designed independent of the underlying implementation and can provide the foundation for formal specification and analysis, algorithmic design, and consistency checking.
Ken Goldberg is the William S. Floyd Distinguished Chair in Engineering at UC Berkeley and an award-winning roboticist, filmmaker, and artist. He holds secondary appointments in EECS, Art Practice, the School of Information and the Dept of Radiation Oncology, The University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). He is Director of the CITRIS "People and Robots" Initiative with over 60 affiliated UC faculty, and Director of the UC Berkeley AUTOLAB, where he supervises 30 postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students pursuing research in Robotics, Automation, and Social Information Filtering for warehouses, homes, and operating rooms. Ken has published over 300 papers, 3 books, and holds 9 US Patents. Ken’s artwork has been featured in 70 art exhibits including the 2000 Whitney Biennial. He is a pioneer in technology and artistic visual expression, bridging the “two cultures” of art and science. With unique skills in communication and creativeproblem solving, invention, and thinking on the edge, he has presented over 600 keynote and invited lectures at events such as the World Economic Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival, Zeitgeist, TEDx, SXSW, and at Cisco, Fujitsu, Google, General Electric, Intel, Samsung, Siemens, Tata, and Vodefone.
Ken earned dual degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania (1984) and MS and PhD degrees from Carnegie Mellon University (1990). He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1995. Ken has held visiting positions at San Francisco Art Institute and MIT Media Lab and his knowledge of sports remains approximately zero. Ken developed the first provably complete algorithms for part feeding and the first robot on the Internet. He co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE). He is also Co-Founder of the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Lab, the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), the African Robotics Network (AFRON), the Center for Automation and Learning for Medical Robotics (CAL-MR), the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative (DDI), Hybrid Wisdom Labs, Moxie Institute, and Ambidextrous Robotics.
Ken's artwork, closely linked with his research, has appeared in over 70 venues including the Whitney Biennial, San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum, Pompidou Center, Buenos Aires Biennial, Berkeley Art Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, and the ICC in Tokyo. Ken co-wrote three award-winning Sundance documentary films, "The Tribe", "Yelp", and "Connected: An Autoblogography of Love, Death, and Technology" and co-directed the Emmy-Nominated Short Doc "Why We Love Robots." Ken's Ballet Mori was performed by the SF Ballet at the San Francisco Opera House to commemorate the 1906 Earthquake. Ken is Founding Director of UC Berkeley's Art, Technology, and Culture Lecture Series and is represented by the Catharine Clark Art Gallery. His Erdos-Bacon number is 6. Ken was awarded the Presidential Faculty Fellowship in 1995 by Bill Clinton, the Joseph Engelberger Robotics Award in 2000, elected IEEE Fellow in 2005, and selected by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society for the George Saridis Leadership Award in 2016. (goldberg.berkeley.edu @Ken_Goldberg)