We’ve been saying this for years, but no one paid attention. The huge corporate layoffs are not taking place because of cheap human labor outsourced to other countries. Unemployment will become dire because of the cheapest labor of all, robotics… and no one is planning for this huge tectonic shift in human civilization. We need a global council to focus on world-wide unemployment.
With real time algorithms we need to measure/create exponential models for rises in US unemployment, Chinese unemployment, India unemployment and for global unemployment, for the next 5, 10, 15 years, in order to prepare/plan for the monumental, world-wide civil unrest resulting from massive unemployment (leading to starvation and homelessness) never before witnessed. And, btw, as climate change with extremes in weather, converges with global unemployment, be prepared for
shortages in food, water, housing, clothing, supplies of every kind, and global unrest.
If you look at various group behaviors like, say, Arab Unrest on one side of the world and the Teaparty Movement here in the US, they derive their energy from fear of unemployment and homelessness, with scary examples of this, all around, which in turn triggers the deepest fear of all, survival.
Global uprisings will become more and more common unless people are able to compete with robotics, or are educated in skills that computers cannot yet do. The only answer to this human dilemma is better and higher education and training that continues throughout ones life, never ceasing.
The humorous overtones to the word, stupid, are almost gone. It is serious business to avoid this label in the new world order.
Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
World’s Largest Electronics Manufacturer Foxconn Wants 1 Million More Robots In 3 Years. Bye-bye Human Labor
Foxconn announced it will be adding 1 million robots in the next three years. Is human labor on the way out?
SingularityHub.com, August 2, 2011, by Aaron Saenz – Cheap labor isn’t cheap enough for the world’s largest electronics manufacturer. Terry Gou, the CEO of Foxconn recently told employees that they would be replacing human workers with one million robots over the next three years. These robots would handle many basic manufacturing tasks such as spraying, welding, and assembly. Foxconn is based in Taiwan and has nearly 1.2 million workers, the vast majority of which (~1M) live in China, but it’s unclear how many humans would be losing their positions during the switch. Even if robots are used to augment production rather than completely replace people, we’re looking at a major shift in the industry. Contracted with Apple (it’s rumored Foxconn makes the iPad2), HP, Dell, Nokia, Sony, and many other top brands, the electronics giant is singlehandedly responsible for nearly half of all such technological production in the world! If Foxconn switches from cheap Chinese labor to robots, can the rest of the world be far behind?
According to Xinhua News, Gou’s comment was made at a company dance party last week. (Way to kill the mood, Gou.) Without a formal press announcement, it’s unclear how drastic the cuts in human labor will be, though Gou said the move was intended to “replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency.”
Those rising labor expenses come in the form of bad press as well as actual financial costs. Since 2010, the world news outlets have been reporting on a ‘rash’ of suicides among Foxconn’s Chinese workers, supposedly due to harsh conditions, long hours, and low pay. Last year, Gou announced that the number of suicides (roughly 18 in 2010 alone) were well within the statistical expectations for the company (as compared to general rates among the Chinese populace). Continued tragedies surrounding Foxconn’s factories in China, however, continue to link the electronics giant to poor labor practices, as this more recent IDG news clip attests:
Terry Gou’s recent announcement, then, may be a political statement as much as a business plan. Tell us our working conditions are too harsh on people…well then we’ll just remove the people. Howda you like dem Apple(iPad2)s?
No matter their rationale, the shift in workers is a gargantuan overhaul. Currently Foxconn only has around 10,000 factory robots in use, but somehow plans to increase that figure to 300,000 during 2012 and up to 1 million in 2014. That seems like a herculean task, though not impossible. Foxconn has also already announced plans to increase mainland China workers to about 1.3 million by year’s end. If both projections are correct, it looks like Foxconn will be growing in both human and robot workers, or perhaps using traditional labor as they continue to increase their automation. Either way, the company clearly means to stay at the top of the global electronics market.
As their yearly revenue shows, Foxconn is the biggest name in the game, with a reputation for increasing their production rates at incredible speeds. Their compound annual growth rate has been over 50% for a decade. If they think increased automation is the way to maintain that growth, you can bet others will want (even need) to follow suit.
Finding the cheapest and most efficient labor has always been one of the key ingredients of success in manufacturing, so if Foxconn is aiming to replace or augment its workforce with a roughly equivalent number of machines in just three years, it’s a good indicator that the world as a whole may be moving in that direction. We’ve certainly seen many examples of modern factories where automation has removed a great majority of human workers from the floor, and even cheap labor markets will often see machines and humans working side by side to increase efficiency. As Foxconn follows through on their three year plan, they’ll give the world insight into the best ratio of man to machine to optimize production. Foxconn may add 1 million robots, but still keep the majority of its large human workforce and use the massive increase in output to keep up with the equally massive global demand for cheap electronics.
Yet whatever ratio of human/robot labor Foxconn adopts, you can bet that in the long run the percentage of people in production is only going to decline. As machines become more sophisticated, and associated costs of humans (medical expenses, lawsuits, etc) continue to rise, robots will make more sense for a great many repetitive tasks. In essence, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer may have essentially declared the beginning of the end for human labor in the factory.
What will that mean in the years ahead? It’s possible, as US robot makers have maintained recently, that the shift towards automation will bring employment back to post-industrial nations in the form of higher-end jobs. It’s also possible (perhaps likely) that citizens may struggle during the transition from human to robot labor even as economies thrive, leading us to more “jobless recoveries”. Martin Ford, in his book The Lights in the Tunnel, argues that the move to a robot based economy will ultimately require enormous shifts in government and economics as the majority of humanity no longer performs what could be traditionally called ‘work’.
All of that, however, is purely speculation. What is certain is that Foxconn will do everything in its power to keep providing cheaper electronics to the world’s leading brands. In the near term, that just means more inexpensive computers and mobile phones. Hopefully, however, this announcement will fuel a more public and substantive debate on the importance of automation. Media coverage in traditional news outlets has been disappointingly short sighted and uninspiring when it comes to facing the (possible) crisis that global adoption of automation may create. This is a topic that effects us all. While factories were among the first to become automated, law firms, news agencies, call centers, and dozens of other industries will soon be replacing/augmenting human labor with AI software. We need to be asking ourselves tough questions: How do we make that transition as painless as possible? What can we do now to lay down the foundation for future generations where the majority of work is automated? Where should we invest our capital to ensure the best returns when robots finally rule the world?
…if you have an answer to the last one, let me know.
[video credit: IDG News]
[source: Xinhua Net]
What is a Computer Algorithm?
To make a computer do anything, you have to write a computer program. To write a computer program, you have to tell the computer, step by step, exactly what you want it to do. The computer then “executes” the program, following each step mechanically, to accomplish the end goal.
When you are telling the computer what to do, you also get to choose how it’s going to do it. That’s where computer algorithms come in. The algorithm is the basic technique used to get the job done. Let’s follow an example to help get an understanding of the algorithm concept.
Let’s say that you have a friend arriving at the airport, and your friend needs to get from the airport to your house. Here are four different algorithms that you might give your friend for getting to your home:
- The taxi algorithm:
- Go to the taxi stand.
- Get in a taxi.
- Give the driver my address.
- When your plane arrives, call my cell phone.
- Meet me outside baggage claim.
- Take the shuttle to the rental car place.
- Rent a car.
- Follow the directions to get to my house.
- Outside baggage claim, catch bus number 70.
- Transfer to bus 14 on Main Street.
- Get off on Elm street.
- Walk two blocks north to my house.
- The call-me algorithm:
- The rent-a-car algorithm:
- The bus algorithm:
All four of these algorithms accomplish exactly the same goal, but each algorithm does it in completely different way. Each algorithm also has a different cost and a different travel time. Taking a taxi, for example, is probably the fastest way, but also the most expensive. Taking the bus is definitely less expensive, but a whole lot slower. You choose the algorithm based on the circumstances.
In computer programming, there are often many different ways — algorithms — to accomplish any given task. Each algorithm has advantages and disadvantages in different situations. Sorting is one place where a lot of research has been done, because computers spend a lot of time sorting lists. Here are five different algorithms that are used in sorting:
- Bin sort
- Merge sort
- Bubble sort
- Shell sort
If you have a million integer values between 1 and 10 and you need to sort them, the bin sort is the right algorithm to use. If you have a million book titles, the quicksort might be the best algorithm. By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the different algorithms, you pick the best one for the task at hand.
Here are some interesting links:
- whatis.com: Algorithm
- How Java Works
- How C Programming Works
- How PCs Work
- How Encryption Works
- How File Compression Works
Think you know how routers work? These devices use intricate formulas to figure out exactly where to send a packet and how to get it there.
Routers use routing algorithms to find the best route to a destination. When we say “best route,” we consider parameters like the number of hops (the trip a packet takes from one router or intermediate point to another in the network), time delay and communication cost of packet transmission.
Based on how routers gather information about the structure of a network and their analysis of information to specify the best route, we have two major routing algorithms: global routing algorithms and decentralized routing algorithms. In decentralized routing algorithms, each router has information about the routers it is directly connected to — it doesn’t know about every router in the network. These algorithms are also known as DV (distance vector) algorithms. In global routing algorithms, every router has complete information about all other routers in the network and the traffic status of the network. These algorithms are also known as LS (link state) algorithms. We’ll discuss LS algorithms in the next section.
AsiaBizz.com, August 2, 2011 – In a huge technological advance in recent times, scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany are reportedly in the process of developing a skin for robots, which would be similar to the human skin. Normally a human skin has the ability to sense the finest breaths, touch and pain, but this ‘new’ skin is expected to be come equipped with these qualities. The scientists call this new invention synthetic skin and it would help the robot with tactile information.
The synthetic skin will be used as an aid to the camera eyes of the robot, as well as the infrared scanner and the gripping hands. As the human brain responds to the touch of the skin, the synthetic skin too will help the robot to recognize a touch and use its eyes to search for a new contact. Such a feature would be useful for the helper robots of the people who travel often.
For a robot, the vision of an apartment includes where the people and pets are moving around. Philip Mittendorfer, the scientist at TUM, said that in contrast to the tactile information, the sense of sight can
August 1, 2011
Protalix Submits Reply to FDA Complete Response Letter for Taliglucerase Alfa and Reports Top-Line Results from the Company’s Switchover Trial
CARMIEL, Israel, August 1, 2011 /PR Newswire/Protalix BioTherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE-AMEX:PLX, TASE:PLX), announced today that it has submitted its reply to the Complete Response Letter issued in February 2011 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after its review of the Company’s New Drug Application (NDA) for taliglucerase alfa. Taliglucerase alfa, the Company’s proprietary plant-cell expressed form of glucocerebrosidase (GCD), is in development for the treatment of Gaucher disease.
“We believe we have adequately addressed the requests that were outlined by the FDA in their Complete Response Letter,” said Dr. David Aviezer, President and CEO of Protalix. “We will continue to work closely with the FDA as it moves forward with the NDA review.”
On November 30, 2009, Pfizer and Protalix BioTherapeutics, Inc. entered into an agreement to develop and commercialize taliglucerase alfa.
The Company’s submission addresses the issues identified by the FDA in the Complete Response Letter, including the request for clinical data from the Company’s switchover trial and long-term extension trial, and additional information relating to chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC).
Data from all twenty six adult patients enrolled in the Company’s switchover trial of patients switched from Cerezyme® to taliglucerase alfa over the nine-month period, were included in the submission. The data supports the efficacy and safety data package showing that patients can be switched from imiglucerase (Cerezyme®) to taliglucerase alfa. One patient experienced a hypersensitivity reaction. The efficacy data demonstrates that mean hemoglobin and platelet count, spleen volume and liver volume remained stable. Patients enrolled in the trial were switched from imiglucerase (doses ranging from around 10-60 U/kg every other week) to an equivalent dose using the same number of units of taliglucerase alfa.
The submission also included data from treatment naïve patients who completed the Company’s pivotal Phase III trial and have continued to receive taliglucerase alfa for over 24 months in the Company’s blinded long-term extension trial. These patients continued to show an improvement in efficacy and the drug was safe and well tolerated. Furthermore, those patients who were followed specifically for their bone parameters using Quantitative Chemical Shift Imaging (QCSI) MRI continued to show bone marrow improvement over time. Detailed data from the Company’s switchover trial and long-term extension trial will be presented at upcoming medical meetings.
Regarding CMC, Protalix submitted further analyses and modifications of analyses previously submitted to the FDA to address their questions raised with regard to testing specifications and assay validation.
The Company expects the FDA to provide an updated Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) target action date within weeks, which is consistent with FDA guidelines.
Protalix is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of recombinant therapeutic proteins expressed through its proprietary plant cell based expression system, ProCellEx™. Protalix’s unique expression system presents a proprietary method for developing recombinant proteins in a cost-effective, industrial-scale manner in an environment free of mammalian components and viruses. Protalix’s lead compound, taliglucerase alfa, an enzyme replacement therapy for the treatment of Gaucher disease, completed Phase III development. To date, marketing applications have been submitted for taliglucerase alfa in the United States, European Union, Brazil, Israel and Australia. Protalix’s development pipeline also includes the following product candidates: PRX-102, a modified version of the recombinant human alpha-GAL-A protein for the treatment of Fabry disease; PRX-105, a pegylated recombinant human acetylcholinesterase in development for several therapeutic and prophylactic indications, a biodefense program and an organophosphate-based pesticide treatment program; an orally-delivered glucocerebrosidase enzyme that is naturally encased in carrot cells, also for the treatment of Gaucher disease; pr-antiTNF, a similar plant cell version of etanercept (Enbrel™) for the treatment of certain immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing, spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis; and others.