US government blind to workplace automation, study warns

Policymakers do not have anywhere near enough information or data about how technological advancements and workplace automation could impact on the future of work, according to a study by researchers at the US’ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM).

The study, Information Technology and the US Workforce: Where Are We and Where Do We Go From Here, presents a stark warning about how little the US government knows about what the impact of advances in IT, robotics and artificial intelligence on jobs will be, concluding that such a lack of knowledge could be catastrophic to the job market.

“Policymakers are flying blind into what has been called the fourth industrial revolution,” said the study co-chairs, Tom M Mitchell, the E Fredkin University Professor in the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, and Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor in the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Robots may already have impacted manufacturing, but wider technological advances could have an effect on almost every industry and occupation

Published today alongside a commentary by Mitchell and Brynjolfsson in the journal Nature, the study concludes that technological advances will likely have an impact greater than any workplace disruption previously – potentially impacting almost all jobs – and yet the US government has very little data about what may happen.

“There is a dramatic shortage of information and data about the exact state of the workforce and automation, so policymakers don’t know answers to even basic questions such as ‘Which types of technologies are currently having the greatest impacts on jobs?’ and ‘What new technologies are likely to have the greatest impact in the next few years?'” Mitchell explained.

“Our NASEM study report details a number of both positive and negative influences technology has had on the workforce. These include replacing some jobs by automation, creating the opportunity for new types of freelance work in companies like Uber and Lyft, and making education and retraining courses available to everyone through the internet. But nobody can judge today the relative impact these different forces have made on the workforce, or their net outcome.”

Donald Trump may not welcome the research, as it could impact upon his current focus on bringing jobs back to the US. Image courtesy of Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

The study argues that more research is urgently needed to determine how automation and other technological advances are set to impact on the future US workforce, with the co-chair’s commentary going so far as to call for an integrated information strategy that would pull together both public and privately held data into one unified source.

“Governments must learn the lessons that industry has learned over the past decade, about how to take advantage of the exploding volume of online, real-time data to design more attractive products and more effective management policies,” Mitchell said.

However, the study may not be welcomed by the Trump administration. The research comes at a time when the new administration is determined to attract manufacturing back to the US, and generate large numbers of new jobs in the process. As a result, such suggestions of a future problem with employment may not be met favourably.

Using CRISPR, UK scientists edit DNA of human embryos

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Source: BBC

Tesla and AMD developing AI chip for self-driving cars

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Source: CNBC

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Source: Telegraph

Head of AI at Google criticises "AI apocalypse" scaremongering

John Giannandrea, the senior vice president of engineering at Google, has condemned AI scaremongering, promoted by people like Elon Musk ."I just object to the hype and the sort of sound bites that some people have been making," said Giannandrea."I am definitely not worried about the AI apocalypse."

Source: CNBC

Scientists engineer antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains

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Source: BBC

Facebook has a plan to stop fake news from influencing elections

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Renault unveils unorthodox ‘car of the future’: a dockable, peanut-shaped driverless pod

Renault has unveiled its take on the car of the future: a peanut-shaped, mulit-directional driverless vehicle that is capable of docking into a train of vehicles.

Designed by Yuchen Cai, a student of Central St Martins’ MA in Industrial Design, the vehicle is the winning design in competition run between Renault and the prestigious design school, and was honed during a two-week stay at Renault’s Paris studio by Cai this summer.

Dubbed The Float, the vehicle was unveiled today at DesignJunction, a four-day design event that kicked off today in London.

“Everyone has accepted that cars will be part of the sharing economy in the future – that’s what’s going to happen,” said Will Sorrel, event director of DesignJunction, this morning.

“This takes it one step further and these pods are this peanut shape so they can join together, so the autonomous vehicles can link up and join together if they’re going in the same direction, conserving energy.”

The Float by Yuchen Cai, winner of the Renault and Central Saint Martins, UAL competition

The Float is rather unusually designed to run using magnetic levitation – known more commonly as maglev – and would be capable of moving in any direction, eliminating the need for tedious three-point turns.

Made entirely of glass, the vehicle is designed to have sliding doors. Two bucket-style seats enable up to two passengers to travel per pod, and swivel mechanism ensures easy departure from the pods.

When the vehicle is docked to another, however, the passengers aren’t just stuck grimacing at each other through glass. Instead passengers can rotate their seats using built-in controls and power up a sound system that allows them to talk to the pod next door.

Those who are feeling less sociable can change the opacity of the glass, ensuring privacy when their neighbours are not so appealing to communicate with.

The Float is also designed to be paired with a smartphone app, through which would-be passengers could hail a vehicle as required.

“Central Saint Martins’ Industrial Design students really took this on board when creating their vision of the future,” said Anthony Lo, Renault’s  vice-president of exterior design and one of the competition judges. “Yuchen’s winning design was particularly interesting thanks to its use of Maglev technology and its tessellated design. It was a pleasure to have her at the Renault design studios and see her vision come to life.”

“From a technological viewpoint, the prospect of vehicle autonomy is fascinating, but it’s also critical to hold in mind that such opportunities also present significant challenges to how people interact and their experience of future cities,” added Nick Rhodes, Central Saint Martins programme director of product ceramic & industrial design.

“Recognition of the success of the projects here lies in their ability to describe broader conceptions of what driverless vehicles might become and how we may come to live with them.”