Many decades ago, when science fiction was still whimsical and fun rather than dark and dystopian, we saw robots appear in popular culture that were benign and friendly. Some may recall Robbie the Robot from the movie “Forbidden Planet” and, of course, there was R2D2 in “Star Wars”, with a demeanor as cute as any Fox Terrier. But now our movies seem to be much darker for reasons we can only speculate about. Cinematically, perhaps, the turning point was the movie “Terminator” which introduced the idea of the cyborg human that was able to project overwhelming power. While the nation was busy coping with Covid, several dystopian trends seem to have sprung from a Pandora’s box.
The Massachusetts State Police have been quietly testing Boston Dynamics' robot dog named Spot and took it out into the field on two separate occasions. Boston Dynamics has been leasing Spot to a variety of companies, though it does prohibit them from using the robot dog to harm or intimidate people. Spot comes equipped with 360-degree video capabilities and is capable of walking up a flight of stairs and traversing uneven terrain. It can also open doors, using a mechanical arm that extends from its head.
Going out, you swipe the card, which goes to your bank account or to a credit card, and that it is. No ques, no cashiers, fast and easy. The first shop, in Seattle, has a roaring success. Nobody is in charge with restocking the items. An automatic system does that. And soon two robots will replace the items on the shelves, now done by two employees. Even the cleaning of the floor is being done by a robot. The goal is to have a totally automatic shop, where no human can make mistakes, get ill, go on strike, take holidays, or bring into the work personal problems. The American petrol industry calculates that will reduce within three years the staff required at each well, from 20 to five. Small hotels within three years will have a fully automated reception. You will arrive, swipe your credit card, a key for your room will come out, and you are done.
But the job apocalypse might have a silver lining. The Luddites of the 1800s were unsuccessful for a number of reasons: They were politically marginal. They were not well-organized. They misdiagnosed the problem as being either about the technology or their employers. And, at least in some tellings, they had little public support. In contrast, those involved in a white-collar movement would have strong ties to influential people. They would organize effectively. They would understand the larger problem as an imperfect economic system whose pathologies technology merely amplifies. And, they would have the rhetorical skills to draw the sympathy of the public – who are likely to be themselves jobless, too.
By Jesse Ferreras for Global News - It used to be the case that when employers had trouble hiring, wages would increase in places with low jobless rates. Then came the rise of machines. These days, employees aren’t being paid much more than they were in the past, a BMO economist said in a report released on Friday. In a report titled “Wage Against the Machine,” economist Sal Guatieri looked at the effects of robots and automation on wages using data from the U.S. and the OECD. Hourly compensation per hour in the U.S. grew “smartly” in 2015, he wrote, but since then it has “barely kept pace with inflation.” Colorado and North Dakota, he noted, have “some of the lowest jobless rates and slowest wage gains in the country.” Wages could still grow, Guatieri said. But he went on to say that the national jobless rate only hit 4.3 per cent or less twice in the last 50 years: first, between 1965 and 1970, and second, between 1999 and 2001. The cost of labour went up in both of these periods. But now, “new automation is working its way up and down the skills’ chain,” and threatening more jobs than it used to. Previously, robots threatened jobs in industries such as manufacturing, transportation, office support and retail. Now, they’re inching into tasks that involve thinking.
By Niamh McIntyre For Independent - A Japanese company tasked with cleaning up Fukushima, the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has admitted that its attempts to probe the site are failing repeatedly due to incredibly high levels of radiation. The nuclear meltdown at Fukushima in 2011 was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami which left around 18,000 people dead and more than a million buildings destroyed. At least 100,000 people living near the plant were forced to leave their homes. High rates of mental health problems and post-traumatic stress disorder have been observed within the displaced population.
By Mac Slavo for Activist Post - Before future-history brings us a dark and grim reality pitted against a killer Terminatorrobot army, humanity will have to face job killing robots. And that may be the bloodiest period of human history, after unemployment leads to riots, unrest and bitter aftermath scenarios play out as a consequence. Robotic labor is now literally cheaper than human labor, and it is poised to undercut work forces and drive layoffs in even in the most exploitative, slave-wage factories in the world.
The army will deploy new unmanned ground vehicles that can carry remote-controled weapons and sensors for surveillance missions to patrol the Gazan border this year. The Tomcar-based Guardium, produced by Israeli defense company G-NIUS Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles, has spent the past six years patrolling the Gaza border, carrying out reconnaissance missions. This year, it will be replaced by a UGV called Border Patroller, which will soon enter operations. The new UGV, also produced by G-NIUS (a joint venture company established by Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems), is based on the Ford F-350 Super Duty Truck, which the army has converted into a remote-controled vehicle.